76 protesters arrested at Dakota pipeline site

Alicia Acuna reports from Denver


Seventy-six people were arrested Wednesday during renewed clashes over the Dakota Access Pipeline, as the Trump administration moves to speed the pipeline-approval process.

The people were attempting to create a new campsite on private property as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, along with the North Dakota Governor’s office and local law enforcement, worked to clean up the main protest site before spring floodwaters rise and wash trash and other debris into the Missouri River. The cleanup is being overseen by the tribe and is expected to take several weeks.

A day after cleanup began, however, tensions rose anew when the Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer told Republican North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven that he had directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the final permit necessary to finish the pipeline. A final decision on the permit hasn’t yet been made but is expected soon.

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Thousands of people have gathered there since August to protest the $3.8 billion oil pipeline, which the Standing Rock Sioux say threatens sacred sites and drinking water supplies. Nearly 700 people have been arrested in clashes between law enforcement and protesters.

On Wednesday, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s office said a “rogue group of some of the more aggressive elements of the protest camp” clashed with law enforcement while trying to build the new campsite.

“In spite of the actions of this rogue group, we will strive to continue efforts on both sides to move forward and find common ground as steps are taken to ensure public safety and begin healing the relationships that are so important to the region and our state,” Mr. Burgum said in a statement.

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