While both presidential candidates have remained silent on the Dakota Access Pipeline, current U.S. President Barack Obama spoke yesterday (November 1) on what his administration is doing to mitigate the matter.
In an exclusive interview with social media news site NowThis, he says that the Army Corps is looking at “whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline,” and that options will be sorted out over several weeks until the administration can determine “whether or not this can be resolved in a way that is properly attentive to the traditions of the First Americans.” His administration continues to monitor the situation closely, but he says that, in his view, “there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans.”
When asked about the rising tensions between water protectors and law enforcement, particularly the use of rubber bullets against pipeline opponents last week, the president responded:
It’s a challenging situation. I think that my general rule when I talk to governors and state and local officials whenever they’re dealing with protests, including, for example, during the Black Lives Matter protests, is there’s an obligation for protestors to be peaceful, and there’s an obligation for authorities to show restraint. And, you know, I want to make sure that as everybody is exercising their constitutional rights to be heard, that both sides are refraining from situations that might result in people being hurt.
This is the second time Obama has spoken about the pipeline and the ensuing reaction from Native peoples and their allies. The first was during a trip to Laos in September. There he took questions during a news conference and a Malaysian woman asked him about the 1,172-mile long pipeline.
Her question, according to C-SPAN footage, was concerned with what he could do to protect Native people’s ancestral land and clean water from the pipeline—and if there was a solution that would uphold environmental justice.
Obama’s answer did not directly address what she had asked. He said:
One of the priorities I’ve had as president is restoring an honest and generous and respectful relationship with Native American tribes, so we have made an unprecedented investment in meeting regularly with the tribes, helping them design ideas and plans for economic development, for education, for health that is culturally appropriate for them. And this issue of ancestral lands and helping them preserve their way of life is something that we have worked very hard on.
He continued by explaining that he couldn’t speak to this particular case without consulting his staff.
Watch the full interview with NowThis above.