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Tribe files legal challenge to stall Dakota Access pipeline

Construction crews have resumed work on the final segment of the Dakota Access pipeline and the developer of the long-delayed project said the full system could be operational within three months.

Meanwhile, a Native American tribe filed a legal challenge to block the work and protect its water supply.

The Army this week Energy Transfer Partners formal permission to lay pipe under a North Dakota reservoir, clearing the way for completion of the 1,200-mile pipeline.

Company spokeswoman Vicki Granado confirmed early Thursday that construction began “immediately after receiving the easement.”

Workers had already drilled entry and exit holes for the segment and oil had been put in the pipeline leading up to Lake Oahe in anticipation of finishing the project.

“The estimate is 60 days to complete the drill and another 23 days to fill the line to Patoka,” Granado said, referring to the shipping point in Illinois that is the pipeline’s destination.

Work was stalled for months due to legal opposition by the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes.

Both tribes argue that the pipeline threatens their water supply and cultural sites.

In a statement, Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman Harold Frazier said the water “is our life. It must be protected at all costs.”

The Cheyenne River reservation in South Dakota borders the Standing Rock reservation, which straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border. The last piece of the pipeline is to pass under the lake on the Missouri River, which marks the eastern border of both reservations.

A separate court battle unfolded between the developer and the Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the federal land where the last segment is now being laid.

President Donald Trump instructed the Corps to advance pipeline construction.

The Cheyenne River Sioux this week asked a federal judge to stop the work while a lawsuit filed earlier by the tribes proceeds.

Attorney Nicole Ducheneaux said in court documents that the pipeline “will desecrate the waters” that the Cheyenne River Sioux rely on.

Energy Transfer Partners, which maintains the pipeline is safe, did not immediately respond in court to the filing. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said he would hear arguments from attorneys on early next week.

The tribes’ lawsuit, filed last summer, has been on hold while the dispute over the final pipeline segment played out. The Cheyenne River Sioux on Thursday told the judge that they also want to make a claim on freedom-of-religion grounds.

“The sanctity of these waters is a central tenet of their religion, and the placement of the pipeline itself, apart from any rupture and oil spill, is a desecration of these waters,” Ducheneaux wrote.

Standing Rock Sioux attorney Jan Hasselman has said that tribe will also try to block the construction in court, with likely arguments that further study is necessary to preserve tribal treaty rights.

An assessment conducted last year determined that building the final segment of the pipeline would not have a significant effect on the environment. However, the Army decided in December that further study was warranted to address tribal concerns.

The Corps launched an environmental study on Jan. 18, but Trump signed an executive action six days later telling the Corps to allow the company to proceed with construction. Legal experts have disagreed on whether the Army can change its mind simply because of the change in White House administrations.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault said in a statement late Wednesday that the tribe is prepared to keep up the battle in the courts, “to fight against an administration that seeks to dismiss not only our treaty rights and status as sovereign nations, but the safe drinking water of millions of Americans.”

An encampment near the construction drew thousands of protesters last year in support of the tribes, leading to occasional clashes with law enforcement and hundreds of arrests.

Law enforcement officers who have maintained a presence in the area for months were on heightened alert Thursday for protests, though none was immediately reported.

Officers and National Guard soldiers were stationed on the hills near the camp and at a blockaded bridge on a nearby highway. Energy Transfer Partners has its own security at the drilling area.

In a statement earlier this week, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum urged “cooperation and restraint” from all parties and requested federal law enforcement assistance to keep the peace during construction.

Protesters rallied in several U.S. cities. Joye Braun and Payu Harris, two pipeline opponents who have been at the North Dakota protest encampment, said in an interview at a nearby casino that there’s frustration but also resolve in the wake of the Army’s decision.

“The goal is still prayerful, nonviolent direct action,” Braun said.

2016 Rewind: The stand at Standing Rock

Continue reading 2016 Rewind: The stand at Standing Rock

Monitoring equipment failed to detect North Dakota pipeline spill

A pipeline rupture spewed more than 176,000 gallons of crude oil into a North Dakota creek and went detected until a landowner discovered the pollution.

The monitoring equipment didn’t detect the leak, according to Wendy Owen, a spokeswoman for True Cos., which operates the Belle Fourche Pipeline.

A landowner discovered the spill near Belfield on Dec. 5, according to Bill Suess, an environmental scientist with the North Dakota Health Department.

The crude migrated about 6 miles from the spill site along Ash Coulee Creek, polluting private and public U.S. Forest Service land. The creek feeds into the Little Missouri River.

Seuss said it appears no oil got that far and that no drinking water sources were threatened.

About 37,000 gallons of oil had been recovered as of Monday.

The pipeline was shut down immediately after the leak was discovered. The pipeline is buried on a hill near Ash Coulee creek and the “hillside sloughed,” which may have ruptured the line, Owen said.

“That is our No.1 theory but nothing is definitive” Owen said. “We have several working theories and the investigation is ongoing.”

True Cos. has a history of oil field-related spills in North Dakota and Montana, including a January 2015 pipeline break into the Yellowstone River. The 32,000-gallon spill temporarily shut down water supplies in the downstream community of Glendive, Montana, after oil was detected in the city’s water treatment system.

The 6-inch steel Belle Fourche Pipeline is mostly underground but was built above ground where it crosses Ash Coulee Creek, Suess said.

Owen said the pipeline was built in the 1980s and is used to gather oil from nearby oil wells to a collection point.

The company has hired Alberta, Canada-based SWAT Consulting Inc. that specializes in cold-weather oil spill cleanups, Suess said.

About 60 workers were on site Dec. 12 and crews have been averaging about 100 yards daily in their cleanup efforts, he said. Some of the oil remains trapped beneath the now frozen creek.

True Cos. operates at least three pipeline companies with a combined 1,648 miles of line in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming, according to information the companies submitted to federal regulators. Since 2006, the companies have reported 36 spills totaling 320,000 gallons of petroleum products, most of which was never recovered.

Federal pipeline safety regulators initiated 19 enforcement activities against the three True pipeline companies since 2004. Those resulted in $537,500 in proposed penalties, of which the company paid $397,200, according to Department of Transportation records.

The potential for a pipeline leak that might taint drinking water is at the core of the disputed four-state, $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, where thousands of people have been protesting its construction in southern North Dakota. That pipeline would cross the Missouri River.

Study: North Dakota pipelines average 4 spills per year

Pipelines in North Dakota have spilled crude oil and other hazardous liquids at least 85 times since 1996, according to an analysis released today by the Center for Biological Diversity. These 85 spills — an average of four a year — caused more than $40 million in property damage, according to the data compiled from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The analysis follows the recent decision by the Obama administration not to grant the Dakota Access pipeline an easement for construction under Lake Oahe.

After months of peaceful protests led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will undertake a review of alternate routes for the pipeline.

“Pipeline leaks are common and incredibly dangerous, and the Dakota Access pipeline will threaten every community it cuts through,” said the center’s Randi Spivak. “This pipeline wasn’t considered safe for the residents of Bismarck. It is equally unsafe for the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux. The Army Corps should not be putting anyone’s water supply at risk.”

Energy Transfer Partners, the conglomerate behind the controversial Dakota Access project, has a questionable safety record. The company has been responsible for 29 pipeline safety incidents since 2006, in which 9,555 barrels of hazardous liquids were spilled.

The standoff over the Dakota Access pipeline has united indigenous people across the globe in an unprecedented show of solidarity. Thousands have come to show their support. In response local police have militarized the situation, firing rubber bullets and showering protesters with water in freezing temperatures.

A 2013 study reveals a deeply troubling history of pipeline accidents in the United States. This independent analysis of federal records found that since 1986, oil and gas pipeline leaks, spills and other safety incidents have resulted in nearly $7 billion in damages, more than 2,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths.

A time-lapse video documents significant pipeline” incidents in the continental United States — along with their human and financial costs — from 1986 through May 2013.

On average one significant pipeline incident occurred in the country every 30 hours, according to the data.

“We expect the Corps to conduct a full oil-spill risk analysis for every river crossing along the entire route of the Dakota Access project,” Spivak said in a statement to the press. “Spills are a fact of life when pipelines fail — and that puts water, wildlife and people directly in harm’s way.”

 

Dakota Access Pipeline protest timeline

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Sunday turned down the request for an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline to build under the Missouri River, after months of protests from Native American and climate activists.

The following is a timeline of the project:

December 2014

Energy Transfer Partners LP applies to build a 1,172 mile (1,885 km), 570,000 barrel-per-day pipeline to deliver crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale fields to Patoka, Illinois, crossing South Dakota and Iowa to the North Dakota Public Service Commission, kicking off a year of public hearings in the state.

January 2016

North Dakota regulators approve the pipeline unanimously

April 29

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers holds a hearing for Native Americans on the pipeline. At that time, there was heated opposition to the project from Native tribes.

July 25

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved three easements for water crossings for the pipeline at Sakakawea, the Mississippi River and Lake Oahe. Lake Oahe is an ancestral site for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

July 27

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sues the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia in connection with the pipeline, citing violation of multiple federal statutes that authorize the pipeline’s construction and operation, and seeks an emergency order to halt construction. The tribe also alleges the pipeline threatens their environmental and economic well-being and would damage and destroy sites of historic, religious and cultural significance. The Sioux Tribe say that because the pipeline goes underneath Lake Oahe, approximately half a mile upstream of the tribe’s reservation, leaks from the pipeline would be directly in the tribe’s ancestral lands.

Aug. 24

Celebrities including Susan Sarandon, Riley Keough and Shailene Woodley joined members of the Tribe outside a courthouse in Washington, D.C., to protest the pipeline saying that it could pollute water and desecrate sacred land.

Sept. 3

Private security guards hired by Energy Transfer Partners used attack dogs and mace after violence erupted at a private construction site along the pipeline route. Six people were bitten by dogs, a scene that was captured on video and broadcast widely.

Sept. 6

Brian Cladoosby, president of the National Congress of American Indians, which represents more than 500 tribes, spoke to nearly a dozen of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet-level advisers at a Sept. 6 meeting of the White House’s three-year-old Native American Affairs Council. Cladoosby delivered an impassioned request to his audience: stand with Native Americans who have united with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Sept. 9

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington rejected a broad request from Native Americans to block the project. He, however, rules that no construction activity on the Dakota Access may take place between Highway 1806 and 20 miles to the east of Lake Oahe. Construction activity to the west of Highway 1806 may proceed. The tribe appeals the decision.

Sept. 9

Less than an hour after Boasberg’s decision, the U.S. Justice and Interior Departments and Army made an unprecedented move and ordered a stop to construction near Lake Oahe until the Army Corps of Engineers reviews its previous decisions and decides if it needs to conduct a fuller environmental and cultural review.

Sept. 13

Energy Transfer Partners told employees in a letter, provided to media, that the company was committed to completing the project. The midstream operator cited that the pipeline was 60 percent complete, and that it had already spent $1.6 billion so far on equipment, materials and the workforce.

Oct. 9

The U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit said that an administrative injunction related to the emergency motion of the Standing Rock Tribe would be dissolved, citing that Dakota Access has rights to construct on private land up to Lake Oahe.

Oct. 11

Environmental activists across four states disrupted the flow of millions of barrels of crude from Canada into the United States in a rare, coordinate action that targeted several key pipelines simultaneously. The protest group, the Climate Direct Action, said their move was in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. As a safety precaution, companies operating the pipelines shut off sections of the lines for several hours while they investigated.

Earlier in the day, Energy Transfer Partners said it looked forward to prompt resumption of construction activities east and west of Lake Oahe on private land.

Oct. 25

Government-to-government tribal consultations began across six regions on how federal government decision-making on infrastructure projects could better include tribal concerns.

Nov. 8

Energy Transfer Partners says it has built the pipe to the edge of Lake Oahe and reiterates its intentions to complete the project.

Nov. 9

Following the victory of Donald Trump in the presidential election, climate activists and the Standing Rock Sioux say they still hope President Obama will be able to kill the pipeline definitively. Analysts say the line is more than likely to go through.

Nov. 14

The U.S. government, in a joint notice issued by the Department of the Interior and the Army Corps of Engineers, delayed a final decision on permitting. They said the permit had followed all legal requirements, but said more consultation with Native American tribes was needed.

Nov. 18

Energy Transfer Partners’ CEO Kelcy Warren told the Associated Press that the pipeline would not be re-routed. The statement came as protests grew more heated.

Nov. 20

About 400 activists gather on a bridge between the camp protest and the construction path and law enforcement officers respond by using tear gas and water cannons on them in freezing temperatures.

Nov. 26

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tells protesters they need to leave the Oceti Sakowin Camp, the primary protest camp located on federal land, by Dec. 5. They later say they have no plans to enforce this order.

Nov. 28

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple issues an evacuation order for the Oceti Sakowin camp, citing harsh weather on the way. Officials the next day tell Reuters they plan on blockading the camp so supplies cannot get in. They later back off that plan to say they may just issue fines but retreat from that idea as well.

Nov. 30

A group of U.S. veterans announce they will bring more than 2,000 service members to North Dakota to stand as human shields between the protesters and law enforcement. They begin arriving over the next several days.

Dec. 4

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denies Energy Transfer Partners’ request for an easement to run under Lake Oahe, sparking a celebration amongst protesters. ETP says it will continue to fight for the line. The incoming Trump administration has said it supports Dakota Access, along with other pipeline projects.

Dakota Access protesters close Citibank accounts

As part of a global day of solidarity with Standing Rock water protectors, thousands of activists around the globe demanded that Citibank halt and rescind its loan disbursements for the Dakota Access pipeline.

Activists went to Citibank branches to close their accounts and ask that the bank honor its policies on Indigenous, human, and environmental rights.

Citibank holds the largest share in the Dakota Access pipeline and helped lay the groundwork for other financial institutions to join in financing the controversial project.

“Citibank claims that it cares about Indigenous rights, yet has led the way in financing this disastrous project on behalf of a fossil fuel company willing to destroy Standing Rock’s sacred land and water supply,” said Greenpeace spokeswoman Mary Sweeters. “Not only has the bank laid the groundwork for the project to move forward, in doing so it has signed off on the human rights abuses we’ve seen from Energy Transfer Partners and its security team. It’s time for Citi to put its loan disbursements on hold and withdraw from the pipeline agreement if all outstanding issues are not resolved to the satisfaction of the Standing Rock Sioux.”

In addition to visiting local branches to close accounts and demand accountability from Citi, activists were taking to phones throughout the day to pressure the bank to halt and rescind its loan disbursements.

The actions are part of a larger global day of solidarity with Standing Rock through which individuals closed their bank accounts, shut down banks and demand the withdrawal of sheriff departments.

Greenpeace, which is involved in coordinating the actions, delivered a letter to Citibank reiterating the demands outlined in a coalition letter initiated by BankTrack and sent to all 17 financial institutions backing the project.

The demands include:

• All further loan disbursements to the project are immediately put on hold.

• Citi demands from the project sponsor that all construction of the pipeline and all associated structures is put on hold until all outstanding issues are resolved to the full satisfaction of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

• In case such a resolution of outstanding issues is not achieved with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Citi will fully withdraw from the loan agreement and any other credit facilities to the Energy Transfer Family of Partnerships.

• A public statement is made by Citi on how it will act on the issues identified above.

TD Bank, Bank of America, Suntrust and Goldman Sachs are among the other financial institutions backing the project and the subjects of ongoing protest.

DNB, the largest bank in Norway, recently decided to sell its assets invested in the companies behind the pipeline and is exploring the possibility of terminating its loans as well, which amount for 10 percent of the project.

ING also has expressed concerns about the project and its impacts to the Standing Rock Sioux.

“We are confident that people power can stop this ill-conceived pipeline,” said Sweeters. “Whether it be through the banks pulling their loans or the (Obama) administration pulling the permitting, it’s time to listen to Standing Rock and all the Indigenous communities demanding action.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has delayed a decision on an easement for the pipeline to allow for additional analysis and discussion with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

The original permitting for the pipeline was fast tracked without adequate tribal consultation and consent or environmental review.

With Donald Trump’s presidency on the horizon, calls have grown stronger for Barack Obama to designate a national monument to permanently protect Standing Rock.

Trump’s stock in Dakota Access pipeline company raises concern

Donald Trump holds stock in the company building the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline, and pipeline opponents warn his investments could affect any decision he makes on the $3.8 billion project as president.

Concern about Trump’s possible conflicts comes amid protests that unfold daily along the proposed pipeline route.

The dispute over the route has intensified in recent weeks, with total arrests since August rising to 528.

A recent clash near the main protest camp in North Dakota left a police officer and several protesters injured.

Trump’s most recent federal disclosure forms, filed in May, show he owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners. That’s down from between $500,000 and $1 million a year earlier.

Trump also owns between $100,000 and $250,000 in Phillips 66, which has a one-quarter share of Dakota Access.

While Trump’s stake in the pipeline company is modest compared with his other assets, ethics experts say it’s among dozens of potential conflicts that could be resolved by placing his investments in a blind trust, a step Trump has resisted.

The Obama administration said this month it wants more study and tribal input before deciding whether to allow the partially built pipeline to cross under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota.

The 1,200-mile pipeline would carry oil across four states to a shipping point in Illinois. The project has been held up while the Army Corps of Engineers consults with the Standing Rock Sioux, who believe the project could harm the tribe’s drinking water and Native American cultural sites.

The delay raises the likelihood that a final decision will be made by Trump, a pipeline supporter who has vowed to “unleash” unfettered production of oil and gas. He takes office in January.

“Trump’s investments in the pipeline business threaten to undercut faith in this process — which was already frayed — by interjecting his own financial well-being into a much bigger decision,” said Sharon Buccino, director of the land and wildlife program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.

“This should be about the interests of the many, rather than giving the appearance of looking at the interests of a few — including Trump,” Buccino said.

Trump, a billionaire who has never held public office, holds ownership stakes in more than 500 companies worldwide.

He has said he plans to transfer control of his company to three of his adult children, but ethics experts have said conflicts could engulf the new administration if Trump does not liquidate his business holdings.

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., senior Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, called Trump’s investment in the pipeline company “disturbing” and said it fits a pattern evident in Trump’s transition team.

“You have climate (change) deniers, industry lobbyists and energy conglomerates involved in that process,” Grijalva said. “The pipeline companies are gleeful. This is pay-to-play at its rawest.”

A spokeswoman for Trump, Hope Hicks, provided a statement about conflicts of interest to The Associated Press on Friday: “We are in the process of vetting various structures with the goal of the immediate transfer of management of The Trump Organization and its portfolio of businesses to Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump as well as a team of highly skilled executives. This is a top priority at the organization and the structure that is ultimately selected will comply with all applicable rules and regulations.”

Besides Trump, at least two possible candidates for energy secretary also could benefit from the pipeline. Oil billionaire Harold Hamm could ship oil from his company, Continental Resources, through the pipeline, while former Texas Gov. Rick Perry serves on the board of directors of Energy Transfer Partners.

North Dakota Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple, along with GOP Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer, called on President Barack Obama to authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to approve the pipeline crossing, the last large segment of the nearly completed pipeline.

Kelcy Warren, CEO of Dallas-based Energy Transfer, told The Associated Press that he expects Trump to make it easier for his company and others to complete infrastructure projects.

“Do I think it’s going to get easier? Of course,” said Warren, who donated $3,000 to Trump’s campaign, plus $100,000 to a committee supporting Trump’s candidacy and $66,800 to the Republican National Committee.

“If you’re in the infrastructure business,” he said, “you need consistency. That’s where this process has gotten off track.”

The Army Corps of Engineers granted Warren’s company the permits needed for the crossing in July, but the agency decided in September that further analysis was warranted, given the tribe’s concerns. On Nov. 14, the corps called for even more study.

The company has asked a federal judge to declare it has the right to lay pipe under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir in southern North Dakota. The judge isn’t likely to issue a decision until January at the earliest.

Violence in North Dakota: Water protectors attacked at barricade

More than 100 water protectors from the Oceti Sakowin and Sacred Stone Camps mobilized to a bridge to remove a barricade that was built by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and the state of North Dakota.

The barricade, built after law enforcement raided the 1851 treaty camp, restricts North Dakota residents from using the 1806 freely and also puts the community of Cannon Ball, the camps, and the Standing Rock Tribe at risk as emergency services are unable to use that highway.

Water Protectors used a semi-truck to remove two burned military trucks from the road and were successful at removing one truck from the bridge before police began to attack Water Protectors with tear gas, water canons, mace, rubber bullets, and sound cannons.

At 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 20, the Indigenous Rising Media team acquired an update from the Oceti Sakowin Medic team that nearly 200 people were injured, 12 people were hospitalized for head injuries, and one elder went into cardiac arrest at the front lines.

At this time, law enforcement was still firing rubber bullets and the water cannon at Water Protectors. About 500 Water protectors gathered at the peak of the non-violent direct action.

A statement from the Indigenous Environmental Network…

The North Dakota law enforcement are cowards. Those who are hired to protect citizens attacked peaceful water protectors with water cannons in freezing temperatures and targeted their weapons at people’s’ faces and heads.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department, the North Dakota State Patrol, and the Governor of North Dakota are committing crimes against humanity. They are accomplices with the Dakota Access Pipeline LLC and its parent company Energy Transfer Partners in a conspiracy to protect the corporation’s illegal activities.

Anyone investing and bankrolling these companies are accomplices. If President Obama does nothing to stop this inhumane treatment of this country’s original inhabitants, he will become an accomplice. And there is no doubt that President Elect Donald Trump is already an accomplice as he is invested in DAPL”

Native American protesters occupy land in Dakota pipeline dispute

Native American protesters on Monday occupied privately owned land in North Dakota in the path of the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline, claiming they were the land’s rightful owners under an 1851 treaty with the U.S. government.

The move is significant because the company building the 1,100-mile (1,886-km) oil pipeline, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP, has bought tracts of land and relied on eminent domain to clear a route for the line across four states from North Dakota to Illinois.

Video posted on social media showed police officers using pepper spray to try to disperse dozens of protesters, who chanted, beat drums and set up a makeshift camp near the town of Cannon Ball in southern North Dakota, where the $3.8 billion pipeline would be buried underneath the Missouri River.

The area is near the reservation of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. It was not immediately known who owns the occupied land.

In September, the U.S. government halted construction on part of the line.

The Standing Rock Sioux and environmental activists have said further construction would damage historical tribal sacred sites and spills would foul drinking water.

Since then, opponents have pressured the government to reroute construction. The current route runs within half a mile of the reservation.

Protesters on Monday said the land in question was theirs under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, which was signed by eight tribes and the U.S. government. Over the last century, tribes have challenged this treaty and others like it in court for not being honored or for taking their land.

“We have never ceded this land. If Dakota Access Pipeline can go through and claim eminent domain on landowners and Native peoples on their own land, then we as sovereign nations can then declare eminent domain on our own aboriginal homeland,” Joye Braun of the Indigenous Environmental Network said in a prepared statement.

Energy Transfer could not be reached for comment.

Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. said the proposed route should be changed.

“The best way to resolve this is to reroute this pipeline and for the (Obama) administration to not give an easement to build it near our sacred land,” Archambault said in an interview.

In filings with federal regulators, the company said at one point it considered running the line far north of the reservation and close to Bismarck, the state capital.

Judge drops riot charge against Democracy Now! journalist Goodman

Democracy Now! reporter Amy Goodman won’t face a riot charge stemming from her coverage of a protest against construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota, with a judge saying Monday that there was no cause for it.

Judge John Grinsteiner refused to sign off on the misdemeanor riot charge, which prosecutor Ladd Erickson had pursued after dismissing a misdemeanor criminal trespass charge against the journalist on Friday. However, authorities would not rule out the possibility Goodman could face other charges.

Erickson has said Goodman was acting like a protester when she reported on a clash between protesters and pipeline security last month. Her defense attorney, Tom Dickson, maintains Goodman was doing her job.

The protests have drawn thousands of people to the area where Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners is trying to wrap up construction on the $3.8 billion, 1,200-mile pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois. Opponents of the pipeline worry about potential effects on drinking water on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and farther downstream, as well as destruction of cultural artifacts.

Goodman is one about 140 people who have been charged in recent weeks with interfering with the pipeline’s construction in North Dakota.

After the judge’s decision Monday, Erickson referred questions to Morton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Donnell Preskey. Asked whether authorities would pursue other charges, Preskey said, “It’s all under review.” She would not elaborate.

Goodman told reporters outside the courthouse that Grinsteiner’s decision was a “vindication for all journalists and a vindication for everyone.”

Dickson said prosecutors are wrong to continue to pursue charges against Goodman.

“The first charge was frivolous and the second charge was even more frivolous,” Dickson said. “Enough is enough. They need to let it go.”

An arrest warrant was issued for Goodman after she reported on a clash on Sept. 3, when Standing Rock Sioux officials said crews bulldozed several sites of “significant cultural and historic value” on private land. Energy Transfer Partners denies those allegations.

Law enforcement officials said four security guards and two guard dogs received medical treatment. A tribal spokesman said six people were bitten by guard dogs and at least 30 people were pepper-sprayed.

Goodman, who is based in New York, said she “came to North Dakota to cover this epic struggle … what we found was horrifying.”

About 200 protesters gathered outside the county courthouse Monday as Goodman was set to appear for a hearing that never happened. Many held signs that included, “This is not a riot.” About 100 officers in riot gear were stationed outside the courthouse to monitor those protesters.

Morton County sheriff’s spokesman Rob Keller confirmed one man was arrested on charges including disorderly conduct.

Authorities said pipeline protesters earlier Monday briefly blocked a Bismarck-Mandan bridge across the Missouri River. They dispersed when ordered by law officers.

Carlos Lauria, senior Americas coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said any charges against Goodman are an attempt to intimidate reporters from covering protests of “significant public interest.”

Goodman’s show airs daily on hundreds of radio and TV stations and over the internet.

It’s not the first time Goodman has had a brush with the law while covering events. She and two of her producers received $100,000 in a settlement over their arrests during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

St. Paul and Minneapolis agreed to pay a combined $90,000 while the federal government agreed to pay $10,000. The lawsuit named the federal government because a Secret Service agent confiscated the journalists’ press credentials.

Goodman said at the time the money would go “to support independent, unfettered” journalism about such events.