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After Trump executive order, pipeline opponents plan to continue protests

Joy Wang
January 24, 2017 10:27 PM

President Donald Trump gave new life to a project that drew protesters from around the country, including New Mexico.

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The president ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to quickly approve construction requests for the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline. It had stopped construction to explore alternate routes for one unfinished section in North Dakota.

The company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, says it has taken steps to prevent the pipes from leaking or contaminating the water. Supporters of the project say it will mean thousands of jobs and help move oil to from North Dakota to the rest of the country.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its supporters, however, are worried about the proximity to water and cultural sites. Trump also moved to advance the Keystone XL Pipeline, which was blocked by the Obama administration.

Over the last year, dozens of New Mexicans have been heading up to Standing Rock to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. News of Trump's executive order shocked many New Mexicans who had been fighting to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

But it turns out some also expected this to happen and they plan on staying up there as long as possible.

“I felt a calling to go and be alongside my indigenous brothers and sisters and our allies to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline,” Vanessa Bowen said. “I had that moment of hope, but I knew deep down that it wasn't going to last.”

It didn't. Within days in office, Trump signed an executive order so the $3.8 billion project could move forward.

“It's hard,” Brennon Nastacio said. “I have a lot of mixed feelings right now, and a lot of the things that we were fighting for are just done with, just a stroke of a pen.”

Nastacio said he's sacrificed a lot since traveling to Standing Rock with his son in August.

“Ever since then,” he said. “We couldn't find ourselves to leave.”

Nastacio said he's faced arrest and can't go home.

“I can't go back to my apartment because I lost it,” he said. “I can't go back doing what I was doing because I pawned all my tools so I could make the truck payment and insurance payments.”

That's why he says he isn't leaving anytime soon.

“A lot of people have asked me if this was worth it,” Nastacio said. “Yeah, it's worth it.”

“I surely want to go back for them to continue this fight,” added Bowen. “Even my presence there hopefully can still inspire those who are still on the frontline.”

Nastacio said protesters actually moved their campsite onto reservation land for their safety.

Credits

Joy Wang

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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