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Dakota Pipeline is proceeding with President Trump’s green light go ahead

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CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) — With the green light from the federal government, the company building the Dakota Access oil pipeline said Wednesday it plans to resume work immediately to finish the long-stalled project. Opponents of the $3.8 billion project meanwhile protested around the country in an action some dubbed their “last stand.”

“Today begins the next phase of mass resistance to Donald Trump’s toxic Dakota Access pipeline. This is our land, our water, our health, and our culture at stake ”

— Dallas Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network.

The Army on Wednesday granted the developer of the four-state oil pipeline formal permission to lay pipe under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota, clearing the way for completion of the disputed project.

“We plan to begin immediately,” Vicki Granado, a spokeswoman for developer Energy Transfer Partners, said in an email to The Associated Press Wednesday night.

Work had been stalled for months due to opposition by the Standing Rock Sioux, but President Donald Trump last month on January 24, that he instructed the Army Corps of Engineers to advance pipeline construction.

The tribe fears a pipeline leak could contaminate its drinking water. ETP says the pipeline is safe.

Some members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has been at the center of the debate for nearly a year, urged “emergency actions” via social media.

Protesters posted an online list of about 50 events nationwide. There were large rallies, including one outside the White House, and smaller ones, such as in Des Moines, Iowa.

“Today begins the next phase of mass resistance to Donald Trump’s toxic Dakota Access pipeline,” said Dallas Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “This is our land, our water, our health, and our culture at stake — and if Donald Trump thinks we will give all of that up without a fight he is wrong.”

At a North Dakota encampment that’s been the focus of the pipeline battle for months, the mood was tense, with a few dozen people milling about on a frigid morning and refusing to talk about their plans. Two men at the encampment ordered an Associated Press reporter to leave.

The 1,200-mile pipeline would carry North Dakota oil through the Dakotas and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois. Construction is nearly complete but has been stalled while the Corps and Dallas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners battled in court over the final segment.

The Standing Rock Sioux, whose reservation is just downstream from the crossing, fears a pipeline leak would pollute its drinking water. The tribe led protests last year that drew thousands of people who dubbed themselves “water protectors” to the encampment near the crossing. Protesters and police sometimes clashed, leading to nearly 700 arrests.

The camp’s population has recently thinned to fewer than 300, and the Corps has notified remaining protesters that the government-owned land will be closed Feb. 22.

On Wednesday, police or pipeline security continued to monitor the camp from nearby hills, as they have done for months. In the camp, few people were outdoors, where the wind chill sank to minus 20 degrees. The tribe itself has told camp occupants to leave, though there has been no effort to remove them.

An assessment conducted last year determined the river crossing would not have a significant effect on the environment. However, the Army in December decided further study was warranted to address tribal concerns.

The Corps launched a study on Jan. 18, but Trump signed an executive action six days later telling the Corps to proceed with construction.

Workers earlier drilled entry and exit holes for the crossing, and oil has been put in the pipeline leading up to the lake in anticipation of finishing the project. CEO Kelcy Warren has said the work could be done in about three months.

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Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Dakota Pipeline is proceeding with President Trump’s green light go ahead