Bernie Sanders, Native Americans say oil pipeline will poison drinking water

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Bernie Sanders called on President Obama to take action against the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline during a protest outside the White House on Tuesday with members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations.

The Vermont independent is seeking a full environmental and cultural impact analysis of the four-state, $3.8 billion project, designed to carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. Federal officials last week temporarily halted part of the project, but Sanders wants the administration to go further, saying the pipeline threatens the environment and water resources and exploits Native Americans.

Protesters say the pipeline’s route under the Missouri River will endanger the water supply and sacred sites of the Sioux reservation located on the North Dakota-South Dakota border. A thorough analysis, Sanders said, will ultimately kill the pipeline.

“We cannot allow our drinking water to be poisoned so that a handful of fossil fuel companies can make even more in profits,” the former Democratic presidential candidate told the cheering crowd, estimated at 3,000 by organizers. “We stand united in saying, ‘Stop the pipeline, respect Native American rights and let us move forward to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels.”

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The protest was one of about 200 “#NoDAPL” events Tuesday, mostly in the United States, according to the environmental group 350.org. 

It followed Tuesday’s release of an internal memo from Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access pipeline, saying concerns about the pipeline’s impact on the water supply are “unfounded.” Kelcy Warren, the company’s chairman and CEO, also wrote that multiple archaeological studies conducted with state historic preservation offices found no sacred items along the route.

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