American Indian drummers and singers led a prayer and protest rally Tuesday outside the Army Corps of Engineers office in Omaha to show solidarity with opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
More than 200 people were on hand when the rally started near 17th and Capitol about 4:30 p.m.
“We implore the Army Corps of Engineers to enforce their authority and not grant Dakota Access the permit required to bore under the Missouri River,’’ said Marisa Cummings, a member of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska. “The Dakota Access Pipeline has and will further desecrate sacred sites and put our ... ecosystem and water quality at risk.’’
Bold Nebraska co-hosted the rally. The gathering was one of more than 100 actions planned nationwide Tuesday to encourage the corps not to grant Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners a permit for the pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe, the Missouri River reservoir in southern North Dakota. Opponents fear the pipeline, which would transport crude oil, could affect the water supply and disturb tribal cultural sites.
The four-state, 1,170-mile pipeline is a $3.8 billion project. It would transport 400,000 barrels of crude daily from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields to a refinery in Illinois.
The pipeline crosses 18 Iowa counties. Ed Fallon, director of Bold Iowa, and Iowa landowners battling eminent domain planned to participate in the Omaha rally after appearing at a similar protest at the Neal Smith Federal Building in Des Moines earlier.
The situation remains fluid. Earlier Tuesday, the pipeline developer asked the federal court in Bismarck, North Dakota, to declare it has legal right to build under the Missouri. Monday, the corps said it had finished a review of the disputed pipeline but wants more study and tribal input before considering the permit. The pipeline developer had planned to finish construction by Dec. 1, except for the small disputed section in North Dakota.
Thousands of pipeline opponents have gathered in North Dakota in recent months. Pipeline workers have been confronted, equipment vandalized and a state highway blocked. Hundreds of protesters have been arrested. Nebraska has sent state troopers to help North Dakota deal with the protests.
Bold Nebraska and other opponents staged a similar protest outside the corps offices two months ago.