Celebrities join Native American pipeline protest in Washington, DC

Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:29pm EDT
 
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By Ruthy Munoz

WASHINGTON Aug 24 (Reuters) - Actors Susan Sarandon, Riley Keough and Shailene Woodley joined members of North Dakota's Standing Rock Sioux Tribe outside a courthouse in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to protest against construction of a pipeline they say would pollute water and desecrate sacred land.

About 100 members of the Native American group demonstrated outside the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia while others filled a courtroom inside where a legal battle unfolded over the $3.7 billion project.

The 1,100 mile (1770.28 km) pipeline, being built by a group of firms led by Energy Transfer Partners, would be the first to bring Bakken shale from North Dakota directly to refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The group behind the pipeline, called Dakota Access, had planned to start operations in the fourth quarter of this year, but construction has been dogged since April by protests in North Dakota, and some work has been halted.

A Dakota Access spokeswoman said earlier this week that the company has "temporarily deferred grading activities" across a short section of the right-of-way, while "law enforcement works to contain the unlawful protests."

Tribal leaders say it is they that need the protection of the law.

"In our land, it was never protected, it was just taken and they strategically placed the dams so that tribal lands would get flooded," said David Archambault II, chairman of the tribe, speaking outside the courtroom in Washington on Wednesday.

Dakota Access filed a restraining order against Archambault and other members of the tribe in federal court in North Dakota earlier this month.   Continued...