White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest urged protesters and the Army Corps of Engineers to reach a compromise over the Dakota Access pipeline that has been the source of a bitter feud for months.
The nearly 1,200-mile pipeline has drawn thousands of protesters, including members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota who say the pipeline could harm their water supply and will go through ancient burial sites.
The controversy over the pipeline has been going on since the summer, but has come to a fever pitch as police tactics have gotten more severe — tear gas, rubber bullets and water hoses have been used — and protesters refuse to leave despite freezing temperatures. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued the Army Corps of Engineers this summer and the project has been in limbo ever since.
“I think the observation that the president would make, given the impending change of the administrations, that it is in the interest of both sides to act expeditiously to engage in a serious conversation and resolve those concerns, those differences as soon as possible,” Earnest said during an event with Julie Mason and “The Press Pool” on SiriusXM Tuesday. The interview will air again Friday at 5 p.m ET.
“I think they can come to an agreement relatively soon, hopefully before the transition,” Earnest said when asked about President Obama’s comments earlier this month that the administration would let the protests “play out.”