New North Dakota governor expects
controversial pipeline to be built
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[January 13, 2017]
By Ernest Scheyder
(Reuters) - North Dakota Governor Doug
Burgum, who took office last month in the height of tensions surrounding
the Dakota Access Pipeline, said he believed the line would eventually
be built and asked opponents to clean their protest camp before spring
floodwaters create a potential ecological disaster.
A centrist Republican with no prior political experience, Burgum was
elected in a landslide on a platform of streamlining government and
improving relations across the state. Burgum built a successful software
business before selling it to Microsoft Corp <MSFT.O> in 2001.
Burgum told Reuters that approval of the pipeline appeared to be a
foregone conclusion once Donald Trump moved into the White House.
"I expect the world's going to change dramatically on that day relative
to finding resolution on this issue," Burgum said in an interview. "I
would expect that (Energy Transfer Partners <ETP.N>) will get its
easement and it will go through."
A coalition of Native American groups, environmentalists, Hollywood
stars and veterans of the U.S. armed forces protested the $3.8 billion
oil project at a North Dakota camp, which at one point held more than
5,000, though that number has shrunk in size during the winter.
Opponents contend construction would damage sacred lands and any leaks
could pollute the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
Last month, President Barack Obama denied a key permit needed to
complete the pipeline, but Trump has said he will review that decision.
Local law enforcement have voiced concerns that any reversal by the
federal government could cause the area to swell again with protesters,
David Archambault, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, has
repeatedly asked protesters to leave the area and let the pipeline fight
play out in courts.
[to top of second column]
A man holds an American flag while marching with veterans and
activists outside the Oceti Sakowin camp where "water protectors"
continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access
pipeline adjacent to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near
Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., December 5, 2016. Picture taken
December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Yang
Burgum said he agrees with Archambault and asked protesters to help
clean up the camp before it threatens the environment itself. More
than 300 vehicles, along with dozens of temporary dwellings and
other detritus, have been abandoned at the campsite, which sits in a
flood plain that is likely to be overrun by spring rain and
State officials are concerned that floodwaters could carry that
"The amount of cleanup that needs to take place is enormous," Burgum
said. "We've got a potential ecological disaster if this land floods
and all the debris flows downstream into tribal lands."
(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Andrew Hay)
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