Sanders joins protesters against ND pipeline project

Sanders joins protesters against ND pipeline project
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Keystone XL Pipeline gets nod from Nebraska Supreme Court MORE (D-Vt.) on Tuesday evening called on President Obama to take action to stop the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline oil project, joining protesters at a rally near the White House.

“In absence of the pipeline company’s compliance, further administration action is needed,” Sanders told protesters gathered in Lafayette Square.

“I am calling on President Obama today to ensure that this pipeline gets a full environmental and cultural impact analysis," he continued. “And in my view when that analysis takes place this pipeline will not continue."

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Sanders cited Oil Change International’s findings that the pipeline would have the same impact on the planet as putting an additional 21 million cars on the road and building 30 more coal plants.

The rally came days after the administration said it would halt construction on the project while it decides whether to conduct new environmental tests.

The project has sparked a fierce fight with green groups and the local Standing Rock Sioux tribe pressuring the administration to scrap the $3.8 billion, 1,200 mile long project.

The tribe and environmental groups had sued to stop the project, arguing that the pipeline threatens water sources and sacred lands. The tribes claimed that environmental reviews had been lacking but on Friday a judge ruled that construction could move forward.

Despite that green light, the administration decided to halt construction while reviewing the project.

Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the project, on Tuesday said they were committed to completing the pipeline. The company's chairman in an internal memo said they would "continue to obey the rules and trust the process."

Activist groups 350.org, the Sierra Club, Honor the Earth and the Indigenous Environmental Network jointly helped organize the protest on Tuesday.

Participants at the rally sought to raise pressure on Obama to permanently block the project.

“If you’re serious about your climate legacy then you will stop this pipeline and every pipeline along with it. It’s time for real climate leadership,” Reverend Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, told the crowd.

“That means you can’t talk about renewables on Monday and fracking on Wednesday," he added, criticizing the president. "You can’t talk about all above the ground when the only solution is to keep it in the ground.”

Van Jones, a former special adviser on green jobs in the Obama administration, also attended the rally, which he said he believed would get the attention of the White House

“Simple as I can say it, water is life and oil is death," he told the crowd.

At the rally, Sanders praised the tribes that have fought the pipeline.

“If there is one profound lesson that the Native American people have taught us is that all of us as human beings are a part of Nature and our species as human beings will not survive if we continue to destroy nature," he said.

One of the representatives of the Standing Rock Sioux, Jasilyn Charger, had run to Washington, D.C. from the tribe’s home in North Dakota with other young tribe members.

Charger said the tribe was committed to stopping the pipeline.

“We are not leaving,” Charger said.