President prefers to wait ‘several more weeks’ and see if dispute between Native American leaders and the Dakota Access pipeline oil company can be resolved

 Barack Obama has suggested the Dakota Access pipeline could be rerouted around sacred Native American lands in comments that are the president’s first on the controversial oil project since police arrested hundreds of indigenous protesters during violent clashes.

After months of pleas from activists in North Dakota to stop construction of a pipeline that the Standing Rock tribe says could contaminate its water supply and threaten its cultural heritage, Obama said in an interview released on Tuesday night that the government was “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”.

Asked about the high-profile demonstrations against the $3.8bn pipeline, Obama told news website NowThis: “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 had been silent since the army corp’s announcement, and Energy Transfer Partners, the company operating the pipeline, has rapidly moved forward with construction, in recent days approaching the massive protest camps and river where Native American leaders fear significant damage.

 Courtesy Navajo Nation Washington Office

Asked about “shocking footage” showing police firing rubber bullets at protesters, Obama said: “It’s a challenging situation. I think that my general rule when I talk to governors and state and local officials whenever they’re dealing with protests, including for example during the Black Lives Matters protests, is there’s an obligation for protesters to be peaceful and there’s an obligation for authorities to show restraint.”

He continued: “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.”
Source Guardian

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