But the Standing Rock Sioux tribe is deeply anxious that the $3.7 billion project of Dakota Access, a subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which would pass under the Missouri River a half mile from the reservation, would not only contaminate its lone source of drinking water but also destroy sacred cultural and tribal burial sites located along the pipeline's path.
Saying no to DAPL, the Dakota Access Pipeline, is what numerous signs protesters held said.
"We do have a right to go and be on public access where these workers are going". All we were doing was going to go drive, say some prayers, and we were going to go, we were going to leave.
Oral arguments are scheduled on Wednesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on whether a work freeze should be extended. "We also are very concerned about the impacts of pipeline spillage/breakage because they all eventually break and that will harm the water for not only the indigenous peoples but for all of us", said protester Jan Strout. While that request is pending, the court has instituted an administrative injunction to briefly pause work in the area. "Once it's gone, it's gone forever".
The oil industry is on edge after the Obama Administration temporarily blocked work on part of the 1,200-mile Dakota Access Pipeline.
Rorick said if the tribe or others wish to have discussions on tribal involvement in the federal pipeline permitting process, his organization welcomes the opportunity; but he believes the case against Dakota Access should be judged based on the permitting standards that were in place when the project was approved.
Fedorchak said PHMSA "didn't raise any concerns", and it reinforced for her that modern pipelines are the preferred method of transporting crude oil, being safer than rail or trucks.
The Morton County Sheriff's Department set a press conference for 1:30 p.m. Thursday at North Dakota National Guard headquarters in Bismarck to discuss changes in law enforcement's stance toward the protests and the department's unified command structure.
"Where does it stop?" she asked, adding later: "How do we define that?" She said she's friends with some of the tribal members. An additional 100 Guardsmen have been on standby alert.