Oklahoma tribes join growing outcry over Dakota Access Pipeline
Oklahoma tribes are joining a growing outcry over the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The latest oil pipeline fight turned violent Saturday when protesters in North Dakota breached a fence line to stop bulldozers thought to be rolling over sacred grounds, an accusation denied by Dakota Access, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Crude Oil.
The company unleashed dogs and pepper spray, and members of both parties were injured, including a child bitten by a dog.
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- Video: Pipeline protest (2016-09-07)
Members of the Cheyenne and Arapaho, Comanche and other tribes sent people, food and support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which is leading the protest citing environmental and cultural concerns. A news conference held in Oklahoma City Wednesday will likely call for solidarity across tribal nations, discuss environmental impacts of the pipeline on the Missouri River, which is the water supply for the Standing Rock, Native American issues and reports of support from numerous religious denominations.
The Standing Rock Sioux filed a complaint in federal court to stop the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline, which runs a half mile north of the tribe's reservation in North Dakota. Tuesday, U.S. Judge James Boasberg temporarily stopped some of the construction on the project.
A spokesman for Earthjustice, the tribe's legal representation, said its own surveyors identified the construction sites as sacred in court filings less than 24 hours before the company used bulldozers to destroy burial sites, prayer sites and other culturally significant places on Saturday.
Energy Transfer Partners lawyers denied in a court response that its workers destroyed cultural sites and says it is taking "every reasonable precaution" to protect them. A spokeswoman's voicemail was full, and she did not immediately return an email to The Oklahoman on Wednesday.
Proponents of the pipeline argue it is cost-effective, environmentally responsible and a safe way to move crude oil that would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. The pipeline, supporters say, is a better alternative to trucks and rails that would add thousands of construction jobs and millions in income and sales taxes.
The pipeline is also known as the Bakken Oil Pipeline. It dissects North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa before reaching Illinois.
North Dakota’s economy experienced a 2014 boom but suffered a downturn after an influx of cheap oil.
Check back with NewsOK.com for updates on Wednesday's news conference in Oklahoma City.