MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesotans are voicing their opposition to an oil pipeline now under construction in North Dakota.
The 1,200-mile Dakota Access Pipeline will carry crude from the Bakken oil fields to a terminal in southern Illinois.
But opposition to it is growing louder and more violent by the day.
At Mears Park in St. Paul on Tuesday afternoon, 100 people planned to march in solidarity with the Native American people out in the Dakotas.
Their message is that the crude oil pipeline threatens both the environment and sacred burial sites.
Bulldozers are already clearing a path for the nearly $4 billion Dakota Access Pipeline.
The pipeline is made to carry nearly a half million barrels of crude oil each day from North Dakota oil fields to southern Illinois.
But opposition is turning Dakota prairies into scenes of ugly and angry protest.
Large crowds near the Standing Rock Reservation are trying to block construction, saying it threatens ancestral burial grounds and will damage clean waters.
“The chairman of that tribe put out a call to other nations to come join the resistance, saying they are trying to blockade the pipeline,” said Andy Pearson, a coordinator for the environmental activist group MN350, who was marching in St. Paul.
The pipeline’s builder argues it’s needed to transport oil safely, adding it will do that by taking it off crowded highways and rails.
But opponents say the project was fast tracked and permits ignored tribal concerns.
Already, social media is filled with images of crowds clashing with contractors and private security guards unleashing pepper spray and canines.
Kathy Hollander just visited the encampment where battle lines are clearly drawn.
“We’re all worried about oil spills into water,” Hollander said. “Water is life, and I think the native people are emphasizing that. Water is life and we can’t do without water, whereas we can do with less oil.”
The group in St. Paul says they’ll march to the Army Corp of Engineers offices to show displeasure over the permitting process used to give the project the go ahead.