N. Dakota Law Enforcement To Block Pipeline Protesters' Supplies

Reuters

CANNON BALL, N.D., Nov 29 (Reuters) - North Dakota law enforcement will begin to block supplies from reaching protesters at a camp near the construction site of an oil pipeline project in an effort to force demonstrators to vacate the area, officials said on Tuesday.

Activists have spent months protesting plans to route the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a lake near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, saying the project poses a threat to water resources and sacred Native American sites.

Supplies, including food and building materials, will be blocked from entering the main camp following Governor Jack Dalrymple's signing of an "emergency evacuation" order on Monday, said Maxine Herr, a spokeswoman from the Morton County Sheriff's Department.

"They have deliveries, retailers that are delivering to them - we will turn around any of those services," she said.

The order was effective immediately. As of Tuesday morning, however, no vehicles carrying supplies had been turned back, said Cecily Fong, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.

The building materials intended for the site are a top priority because the camp is not zoned for permanent structures, Fong said. Propane tanks also will be blocked because they have been used in attacks against law enforcement, she said.

A spokeswoman from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe was not immediately available for comment.

The 1,172-mile (1,885 km) pipeline project, owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP, is mostly complete except for a segment planned to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River.

Thousands of people are protesting at camps located on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land, north of the Cannonball River in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The Sacred Stone camp, which was the original camp established in April, is south of the river on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

Opposition to the pipeline has galvanized numerous Native American tribes as well as environmental activists. The movement has been bolstered by social media campaigns and the support of celebrities including actors Mark Ruffalo and Shailene Woodley.

North Dakota officials have issued several requests for additional help from federal law enforcement in light of the demonstrators. However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said on Monday that its order to evacuate the primary protest camp - known as Oceti Sakowin - by Dec. 5 would not include forcibly removing people from the land.

"Those who remain will be considered unauthorized and may be subject to citation under federal, state, or local laws," the Army Corps said, adding that enforcement of the order was up to local authorities.

(Writing by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Additional reporting by David Gaffen in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Copyright 2016 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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