WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Earnest said that the White House has not been dictating the outcome of the talks, but rather has been updated by the Army Corps on the process.
On Sunday, the Army Corps announced it would not grant a legal easement to allow one of the last sections of the controversial, $3.7 billion pipeline to be built under the Missouri River’s Lake Oahe reservoir. The reservoir is part of territory in the state of North Dakota managed by the federal Department of Interior.
In the announcement, Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy suggested that alternative routes for the pipeline be explored.
Earnest recalled that President Barack Obama had welcomed the Army Corps’ willingness to engage in the talks.
The pipeline has been intended to move domestically produced light crude oil from North Dakota through the states of South Dakota and Iowa into Illinois. The project has sparked protests with violent clashes involving local law enforcement officials, who have used dogs, water cannons, tear gas and physical violence in unsuccessful attempts to end the standoff.
Standing Rock Sioux leaders have called on Obama to end the project, most recently in the face of protesters’ potential removal from a camp near a pipeline construction site.