Police in the US state of North Dakota have clamped down on a fresh round of protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, days after President Donald Trump’s directive to resume the project’s construction.
On Wednesday, police arrested at least 76 of the protesters who had gathered near a construction site.
The protests broke out after North Dakota lawmakers Senator John Hoeven and Representative Kevin Cramer said work will continue on the stalled pipeline, despite concerns by Native American tribes and environmental activists about its implications.
Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer “has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline,” said Hoeven.
Cramer, meanwhile, noted that congressional notification of the decision was “imminent.”
Last week, Trump signed an executive order to continue the pipeline, after the project was brought to a halt upon an order from his predecessor President Barack Obama.
The Obama administration halted the project to prevent growing tensions over a court ruling in favor of Energy Transfer, the company behind DAPL.
Led by the Standing Rock Sioux, more than 100 Native American tribes have warned that the four-state pipeline would destroy their sacred sites and contaminate their water resources.
Trump, however, argued that the project should continue so that thousands of workers could get back to work.
Standing Rock denies ties to ‘rogue’ protesters
The Standing Rock Sioux released a statement following the Wednesday encounter between police and protesters, saying although the two lawmakers’ comments were premature, they tribe had no links to the “rogue” protesters.
The tribe has vowed to “vigorously pursue legal action” if the Trump administration cuts off the environmental review for the project.
“To abandon the (environmental impact statement) would amount to a wholly unexplained and arbitrary change based on the President’s personal views and, potentially, personal investments,” the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said Tuesday.