People in the United States have held large demonstrations, including one outside the White House, to protest against the disputed $3.8 billion project to carry North Dakota oil to Illinois, known as the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The protests were held on Wednesday across the US, a day after the US Army granted the final permit for the controversial pipeline following an order from President Donald Trump to expedite the project, dealing a blow to Native American tribes and environmental activists.
The protesters at the White House, among them Native Americans and environmentalists, pledged to step up efforts to block the construction of the pipeline in North Dakota.
It was one about 50 of “last stand” demonstrations expected being held across the country, from Hawaii to Maine, according to event organizers and an online call to action.
The rallies were held in Des Moines in Iowa, in Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, and several other cities. In San Francisco, several protesters were arrested for blocking public access to a federal building.
In Chicago, a group of protesters targeted a bank, while another group demonstrated outside an Army Corps of Engineers office in New York City.
The protesters voiced concerns about possible water contamination and damage to the land they consider sacred as a result of the project.
Led by the Standing Rock Sioux, more than 100 Native American tribes have warned that the four-state pipeline would destroy their sacred sites and contaminate their water resources.
The protest movement has attracted high-profile political and celebrity support across the country.
In a court filing on Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers said it would allow the final 1.5 miles of the more than 1,700-mile pipeline to tunnel under the Missouri River north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
In doing so, the Army cut short its environmental impact study of the pipeline despite a January 18 notice that it would accept public comments on the project through February 20.
Following Tuesday’s decision, the Standing Rock Sioux vowed to shut pipeline operations down if construction was completed.
The pipeline would be the first to transport crude oil from Bakken shale, a vast oil formation in North Dakota, to refineries in the US Gulf Coast.
The previous US administration halted the project after months-long protests. But President Donald Trump has ordered the re-launch of the Dakota Access Pipeline.