Several hundred people gathered at the federal courthouse in Louisville Tuesday to protest the project; other similar rallies were held simultaneously in cities around the country.
The pipeline is planned to transport crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken oilfields across the Dakotas and Iowa, before ending in Patoka, Illinois. It’ll be able to transport more than 470,000 barrels a day, and pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners says the project is essential to helping Bakken crude oil reach the country’s major markets.
But the project has encountered opposition over the past few months. The proposed route crosses the Missouri River close to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, and the tribe has raised concerns about both water contamination and what it says was a failure of the government to consult the tribe during the process.
Tuesday at Louisville’s protest, organized by a coalition of environmental and social justice groups, protesters held signs promoting the sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux and the sanctity of the tribe’s land and water.
“We’re here standing with Standing Rock,” said Louisville resident Christina Dessart, who held a sign urging companies to protect people and the planet over profits. “We’re all united as one and we’re here to support the tribe and the land and the artifacts and the environment.”
Roger Campbell, a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe — a community located geographically close to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe — spoke at the rally. He lives in Louisville, and said the Dakota Access Pipeline and its potential to contaminate the environment should concern everyone, regardless of whether they live along the proposed route.
“That pipeline runs all the way down to Illinois. They’re going to put one over here,” he said. “Why wait till then? Why do you want to wait until your water is affected to stop it? Why don’t you stop it at the beginning? Don’t wait until it’s too late.”
Monday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it wasn’t prepared to green light the project, which needs Army Corps approval to cross under the Missouri River. The agency said more study was needed. Energy Transfer Partners is challenging the Army Corps in federal court; two filings made late Monday argue the company has all necessary permissions to construct the pipeline and should be able to proceed without interference from the Corps.