Dakota Access protesters burn camp as deadline to leave looms

Dakota Access protesters burn camp as deadline to leave looms
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Dakota Access pipeline protesters are bracing for a possible confrontation with authorities, after some vowed to ignore the Wednesday-afternoon deadline to leave the protest camp.

In response to the 4 p.m. Eastern deadline, the remaining protesters prayed and burned wooden structures around the camp as part of a leaving ceremony, according to reports.

Around 300 protesters are believed to have remained in the camp, which is on Army Corps land in Cannon Ball, N.D., since December.

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Chase Iron Eyes, a Standing Rock Sioux member, said the activists would all stay at the camp until the Wednesday deadline.

"Then people will make their individual decisions about what their level of commitment is," he told Reuters. "Some will get arrested."

President Donald Trump signed an executive order last month paving the way for the pipeline project to proceed and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers set the deadline, citing the threat of spring flooding in the area.

“After months of politically driven and costly delays by the Obama administration, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump appears to confirm deal on Chinese firm ZTE Judge rejects Manafort's attempt to throw out some charges Dem: Trump’s policy of separating children, parents at border ‘would shock Jesus’ MORE has moved this important infrastructure project one step closer to completion,” Gov. Doug Burgum said in a statement last month.

Anti-pipeline protesters, including Native American groups and environmental activists, have clashed with authorities for months, with up to 700 protest-related arrests since August, according to an AP report

Energy Transfer Partners plans to run the pipeline under Lake Oahe, which demonstrators argue could damage the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s water resources and its sacred lands, including burial sites.

Two tribes are still pursuing an injunction to get the Army Corps to withdraw from the land, following a judge's decision to deny their request to halt the pipeline construction, according to Reuters.

The pipeline is expected to be completed and operating as early as March 6, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

The $3.8 billion pipeline would carry shale oil from North Dakota to oil refineries in Illinois.