Protests by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe against the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline have intensified in recent weeks. Today, more than 2,000 members of the group Veterans Stand For Standing Rock plan to include themselves in the protests, joining the already thousands-strong demonstration near the Missouri River in North Dakota.
What are these protests about? What is the Standing Rock Sioux tribe hoping will change? Here are some fast facts about the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
What is the Dakota Access Pipeline?
The proposed pipeline is meant to transport oil from North Dakota's Bakken Shale site through four states, all the way to Illinois. Proponents estimate the pipeline would transport up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily. Texas company Energy Transfer Partners is leading up the project, which was initially proposed in 2014.
The proposal includes a plan to route the pipeline beneath a stretch of the Missouri River in North Dakota.
Why is the Standing Rock tribe protesting?
The Native American tribe that is against the proposed project argues that the pipeline could do lasting damage to their livelihoods. The pipeline traveling beneath the Missouri River, for example, threatens their water source. Although ETP and other proponents of the pipeline are steadfast in their beliefs that the project is safe, thousands of pipeline leaks have occurred across the country since 2010.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe also alleges that burial lands have been and will continue to be affected by the oil pipeline. They argue that the federal government and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to consult with them before approving the project.
Other individuals who are not members of the tribe have joined the protest to defend the rights of the Standing Rock tribe, as well as to oppose increases in oil production overall due to its contribution to climate change.
What has been the response to these protests?
Protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline began several months ago, and today the plotted route near the Missouri River hosts a crowded campsite full of individuals who've amassed to oppose the proposed pipeline's construction.
President Barack Obama responded somewhat to the protests and ordered the project be delayed until research on an agreeable solution could be found. But with the election of Donald Trump, it seems that the pipeline will likely be resumed in the future, especially considering he owns stock in the company that's in charge of construction.
The protesters have not been treated well by local law enforcement, according to a number of firsthand accounts. Several instances of violence against protesters have been documented, including a massive number of arrests, as well as the use of pepper spray, rubber bullets, water cannons and teargas; some protesters were allegedly even held in dog kennels.
Additional challenges face the protesters, including a recent snowstorm that made conditions very cold. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple also ordered an evacuation of the site due to the dangerous weather, though he also added that protesters were "not to return to the evacuation area" following the storm.