Despite a call from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday (November 14) for a round of additional studies that would temporarily delay construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, supporters of residents at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota pressed on with a planned 300-site national protest.
Nearly 500 supporters of the Standing Rock occupation lined Aero Drive on Tuesday morning (November 15) before pouring into a courtyard outside Kearny Mesa's U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office where the group rallied before presenting petitions calling on the cancellation of the pipeline.
"The statement is just words," said Bobby Wallace, a Kumeyaay member of the local Barona tribe. "They say they'll negotiate — well, we've heard them 'negotiate' for hundreds of years. We want action, we want our treaties respected, we want this pipeline to stop."
Originally planned to cross the Missouri River north of Bismarck, North Dakota, the route was revised after cries from local residents expressing water-pollution concerns similar to the issues raised by Standing Rock protesters, who refer to themselves as "water protectors."
"We call that environmental racism, and we won't stand for it. If this project is too dangerous for the people of Bismarck, it has no place near tribal land," opined an event emcee.
Despite the major stumbling block in crossing the Missouri, a large portion of the pipeline is already complete. Instead of a comprehensive review, the pipeline used a process known as National Permit 12 that allowed the route to be approved and completed in small segments. Opponents have argued the approach taken by Texas-based Energy Transfer in constructing the project has resulted in insufficient environmental review.
As protests continued across the country, Energy Transfer filed court papers in Washington DC seeking to "end the Administration's political interference in the Dakota Access Pipeline review process" and obtain an order allowing the project to be completed without any further governmental review, overruling the recent Army Corps' decision.
The greatest hope for blocking or rerouting the pipeline would likely come from the lame-duck Obama administration. President-elect Donald Trump has voiced strong support for new energy infrastructure projects, and in addition to having between $500,000 and $1 million invested in Energy Transfer received more than $100,000 in campaign donations from chief executive Kelcy Warren.