President Barack Obama said Tuesday in an interview with NowThis News that although the federal government is looking into a “re-route” of the Dakota Access Pipeline, he is letting the situation at the project site “play out” before deciding whether to intervene.
The construction of the pipeline, which was announced in 2014, has been a hot topic of discussion in recent months because of the potential ecological and humanitarian consequences of the project. The pipeline, designed to transport crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois, intersects sacred ground of The Standing Rock Sioux tribe. It also is expected to run underneath the tribe’s water supply, presenting the risk of destroying the tribe’s water source in the event of a leak. Many protesting the pipeline are also concerned about its potential contribution to climate change.
Obama declined to say if he would intervene in the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, despite many protesters, as well as a White House petition, calling on his administration to do so. Instead, he told NowThis News he wants to wait several more weeks to see what happens and look into re-routing the pipeline’s path.
“We’re monitoring this closely, and I think as a general rule, my view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans, and I think that right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline,” Obama said. “We’re going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of the First Americans.”
For months, thousands of protestors have traveled to North Dakota to demonstrate against the pipeline. Those protests turned violent last week as police arrested more than 100 demonstrators, while shooting other protesters with pellet guns and deploying tear gas. Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and actor Shailene Woodley are among the more high-profile arrests prior to last week’s events.
Obama touched on the police response to the protests, telling NowThis News that police have an obligation to “show restraint” while protestors have an obligation to be peaceful.
“There’s an obligation for protesters to be peaceful, and there’s an obligation for authorities to show restraint,” he said. “And I want to make sure that as everybody is exercising their constitutional rights to be heard, that both sides are refraining from situations that might result in people being hurt.”
Watch the clip below:
EXCLUSIVE: President Obama on Dakota Access Pipeline protests: “There’s an obligation for authorities to show restraint” pic.twitter.com/UMOklVpldw
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) November 2, 2016