US & Canada

Standing Rock Protest: Trump to review Dakota pipeline ruling

Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota Nation speaks during an interfaith ceremony at Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Oceti Sakowin Camp has attracted thousands of Native Americans and activists protesting the pipeline's completion

US President-elect Donald Trump will review a decision to halt work on an oil pipeline when he takes office in January, according to his aides.

Mr Trump supports the Dakota Access Pipeline, said spokesman Jason Miller, but has not decided on its completion.

His comments come after the US Army said it would not authorise the final section of the pipeline to allow alternative routes to be considered.

Thousands of protesters in North Dakota have celebrated the ruling as a win.

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The multi-billion, 1,200-mile (1,900 km) pipeline, crossing four states, is intended to slash the costs of transferring crude.

It is nearly complete except for a section planned to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir on the Missouri River.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who have protested against the pipeline for months, argue the pipeline will contaminate drinking water and damage sacred burial grounds.

The project has been mired in controversy after months of protests led to increasingly tense clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement.

But on Sunday, protesters marked a symbolic victory when the US Army Corps of Engineers refused to grant a permit to finish the pipeline so it could undertake "an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternative routes".

Native Americans, activists and other protesters, who have endured freezing temperatures at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, cheered in celebration upon hearing the announcement.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A Native American tribe has been celebrating the decision

The two firms involved, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) and Sunoco Logistics, criticised the move as a "purely political action".

Noting that the project already has court approval, the companies accused the White House of abandoning the rule of law "in favour of currying favour with a narrow and extreme political constituency".

Both companies added they "fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe".

Republican North Dakotan politicians too have piled in, with Governor Jack Dalrymple calling the decision a "serious mistake".

Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement on Sunday that he hoped ETP, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple and Mr Trump would co-operate.

"When it comes to infrastructure development in Indian Country and with respect to treaty lands, we must strive to work together to reach decisions that reflect the multifaceted considerations of tribes," he said.

But some protesters remain concerned about the future of the pipeline and whether Mr Trump will allow the controversial, original route to proceed.

"We know that these prayers are powerful… we have to be ready, though," said activist Tom Goldtooth, of the Indigenous Environmental Network.

"We're going to accept this as a victory. But this is one battle in the broader war."

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