Protesters rallied at demonstrations nationwide Wednesday to protest the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to greenlight the construction of the contested $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. The company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, says it will start work immediately. Hundreds of people gathered outside the White House in Washington, D.C., to protest the project, which many fear could contaminate the Missouri River, which serves as a drinking water source for millions. Crowds also gathered in Los Angeles, Manhattan, Denver and San Francisco, where about a dozen people were arrested blockading the doors of the Federal Building. More protesters rallied in Ithaca, New York; Columbus, Ohio; and Chicago, where four people were arrested after locking themselves to each other to shut down a Citibank to protest its investments in the pipeline. Many of the protesters were furious not only about the government’s approval of the pipeline, but also about Trump’s recent claims that no one had called the White House to express opposition to the project.
President Donald Trump: “As you know, I approved two pipelines that were stuck in limbo forever. I don’t even think it was controversial. You know, I approved them. I haven’t even heard—I haven’t had one call from anybody saying, 'Oh, that was a terrible thing you did.' I haven’t had one call.”
As multiple news outlets have reported, the White House shut down its public comments phone line following Trump’s inauguration. However, hundreds of thousands of people have written statements denouncing the project since the Army Corps of Engineers opened up the public comment period in late January. On Wednesday, a group of veterans and indigenous water protectors delivered electronic versions of more than 200,000 of these comments to the Army Corps office in Manhattan. Meanwhile, the City Council of Davis, California, has voted unanimously to divest $124 million in city banking services from Wells Fargo over concerns about the bank’s backing of the pipeline.