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Sanders And Other High-Profile Names Protest Against N.D. Pipeline

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The fight to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline has gone national as rallies against the project were held across the country yesterday. Opposition began with an Indian tribe concerned that the pipeline could contaminate its water supply and harm sacred sites. As Prairie Public Broadcasting's Amy Sisk reports, yesterday's rallies included some big names, like Bernie Sanders.

AMY SISK, BYLINE: Speaking in front of the White House, Sanders called on President Obama for a more thorough environmental and cultural review of the pipeline.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BERNIE SANDERS: We cannot allow our drinking water to be poisoned so that a handful of fossil fuel companies can make even more in profits.

(APPLAUSE)

SISK: Crowds at rallies across the country had similar messages.

(SOUNDBITE OF DEMONSTRATION)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting) Hey, Obama. We don't want no pipeline drama. Hey, Obama...

SISK: In Philadelphia, protesters shouted while Obama stumped for Hillary Clinton. Here's demonstrator Kitty Heite.

KITTY HEITE: I hope that he hears that there are people not just in North Dakota but all over the country who think that this pipeline is not the answer to our energy needs, is not an answer to the jobs crisis, is not the answer to our environmental crisis.

SISK: Meanwhile in North Dakota, where the protests started, the situation continues to be tense. Twenty-two people were arrested Tuesday at a construction area in the western part of the state, far from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation where opposition gained momentum. Some of the protesters had bound themselves to construction equipment. Demonstrators remain camped out an hour south of Bismarck, where the pipeline route crosses under the Missouri River, near the reservation.

NICHOLAS WAGNER: I'm from California. I'm from Southern California, so I have no idea how cold, you know, it's going to be.

SISK: Nicholas Wagner and other protesters say they are prepared to stay through winter. The Obama administration has required the company to stop construction at the Missouri River. The government has asked for a shutdown at a larger area, but pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners has not committed to stopping there. The company says it stands behind the project, which could carry half of North Dakota's daily crude production to market. For NPR News, I'm Amy Sisk in Bismarck. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.