Trump White House reiterates support for projects like Dakota Access Pipeline

There are still protesters in North Dakota, too.
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The new White House, under President Donald Trump, was expected to throw its support behind domestic energy projects such as the Keystone Pipeline and Dakota Access Pipeline.

And Press Secretary Sean Spicer made the administration's first official comments on those projects Monday at a news conference – offering no specifics, but implying Trump could move things forward.

"I'm not going to get in front of the President's executive actions, but I will tell you that areas like the Dakota and Keystone pipeline areas that we can increase jobs, increase economic growth, and tap into America's energy supply," Spicer said. "That's something that he's been very clear about."

Here's the clip where Spicer talks about it.

So while there have been no official actions announced, Trump's position appears to be unchanged from the campaign.

The final piece of the Dakota Access Pipeline would be constructed under Lake Oahe in North Dakota (which is part of the Missouri River) but it was blocked by the Army in December. They said at the time alternate routes needed to be explored.

Trump has said he supports the pipeline project. He once owned shares in the company building it, though a spokesperson has said he sold them off months before being elected.

The company behind it meanwhile said it expects the project to go through – and without a reroute.

The Indigenous Environmental Network, in an email statement, called the White House's position "no surprise."

"Still the fact remains, the pipeline is at a standstill and there has been no official order to reverse the environmental impact study needed to drill under the Missouri River," the group added.

Standing Rock Tribe asks protesters to leave

Protests have continued in the area near Cannon Ball, despite the ruling from the federal government.

The Morton County Sheriff's Office says 21 people were arrested after a third consecutive night of protest activity at the Backwater Bridge Jan. 18.

The crowd grew to about 150 and ignored law enforcement, the sheriff's office said. Demonstrators threw things and officers and tried to get around them – so field commanders were OK'd to use "direct impact sponge rounds, drag stabilizer bean bag rounds, hand deployed pepper spray canisters and smoke riot control CS canisters."

Six law enforcement officers were injured, though none seriously. One protester had a face injury and was taken to a hospital in Bismarck, the sheriff's office said.

Meanwhile, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is asking anyone still at the protest site to leave.

The tribe passed the resolution unanimously, a Facebook post said, with leaders describing "the hardships and strain on the citizens and resources of our Nation."

"For this reason, we ask the protectors to vacate the camps and head home with our most heartfelt thanks. Much work will be required to clean up before the spring thaw, which will flood the area. It is imperative we clean the camps and restore them to their original state before this flooding occurs. Once again, thank you, and we wish you well," the post reads.

Background on the pipeline

Thousands of people protested the Dakota Access Pipeline's construction for months in the Cannon Ball, North Dakota, area. Opponents argued it would threaten the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's water supply and damage sacred lands.

Proponents though say it's actually safer than what's currently happening – as outlined in this Newsweek piece, crude oil travels by rail car right now in danger zones anyway, and pipelines historically have been safer, though there is still risk attached.

The company behind it, Energy Transfer Partners, says the pipeline would eliminate 500-plus rail cars and/or 250-plus trucks needed currently to transport the crude oil every day.

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