(Adds news that 19 cities joining opposition against pipeline;
adds information on Democracy Now! journalist)
By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON Oct 13 Former Democratic
presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and four other U.S.
senators on Thursday called on President Barack Obama to order a
comprehensive environmental review of a pipeline project that
has stirred widespread opposition from Native Americans and
After a federal appeals court on Sunday night denied a
request to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the
senators asked Obama to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to
complete a full environmental impact statement, including
stronger tribal consultation, for a contested part of the route.
"The project's current permits should be suspended and all
construction stopped until a complete environmental and cultural
review has been completed for the entire project," said the
letter by Sanders and Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein, Ed
Markey, Patrick Leahy and Benjamin Cardin.
Also on Thursday, the governments of 19 cities, including
St. Louis and Minneapolis, passed ordinances to support the
Standing Rock tribe in opposition of the pipeline.
In recent weeks, protests against the Dakota Access pipeline
led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota have drawn
international attention, prompting the U.S. government to
temporarily block construction on federal land.
Tribal leaders say the pipeline will desecrate land and
pollute water, especially around the planned crossing through
Lake Oahe, a sacred site. Opposition to the pipeline has drawn
support from 200 Native American tribes.
On Tuesday, anti-pipeline activists in four states, in
solidarity with the Dakota pipeline protesters, closed pipeline
valves to halt the flow of crude through arteries transporting
15 percent of U.S. oil consumption.
A day earlier, actress Shailene Woodley was arrested in
North Dakota while protesting the pipeline, an incident that was
live streamed on Facebook.
On Thursday, Amy Goodman, a journalist from the independent
TV and radio program Democracy Now!, said she would turn herself
over to authorities in North Dakota on Monday morning, in
response to a criminal complaint was filed against her on Sept.
8 for trespassing.
Goodman had filmed the crackdown on protesters by
authorities last month.
"I was doing my job as a journalist, covering a violent
attack on Native American protesters," she said.
When fully connected, the 1,100-mile (1,770 km) pipeline
would be the first to carry crude directly to the U.S. Gulf from
the Bakken shale, a vast oil formation in North Dakota, Montana
and parts of Canada.
The $3.7 billion project is being built by the Dakota Access
subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP,
which has vowed to complete construction.
"There must be a serious consideration of the full potential
climate impacts of this pipeline prior to the Army Corps of
Engineers approving any permits or easements for the Dakota
Access pipeline," the senators said.
Experts say that the full environmental review requested by
the senators could take several months.
(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; additional reporting by
Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by David Gregorio)