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North Dakota's Congress members, governor call on Obama to act on Dakota Access Pipeline

FARGO--North Dakota's governor and U.S. congress members leaders are urging President Barack Obama to make a speedy decision on the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

FARGO-North Dakota's governor and U.S. congress members leaders are urging President Barack Obama to make a speedy decision on the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer, all Republicans, signed a letter Wednesday, Nov. 23, calling on Obama to order the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow the construction of the controversial pipeline, which would cross the Missouri River just north of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The project has been at the center of protests in southcentral North Dakota, with opponents calling for the pipeline's rejection by the Corps and Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the project.

The pipeline would take oil pulled from the Bakken Formation in western North Dakota and ship it more than 1,170 miles to Patoka, Ill.

The letter sign by the state's top Republicans also called on the White House to provide federal assistance to law enforcement "in order to maintain public safety, which has been threatened by ongoing - and oftentimes violent - protest activity."

"Your inaction on the pending easement has created undue hardship and uncertainty for area residents, private landowners, tribal members, construction workers and law enforcement personnel," the letter reads.

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U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., did not sign the letter but said in a statement issued Wednesday she discussed the project with White House Senior Adviser Brian Deese this week, calling on Obama to make a speedy decision on the project or let the Corps make that decision immediately. Though she acknowledged protesters have the right to exercise their First Amendment rights peacefully, she said that is not the case in many instances and continued delays have brought no justice or peace, but instead has put lives at risk.

"Despite my continued meetings with the White House, the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of the Interior, it is apparent that the White House either does not understand, or will not respect the severity of the situation on the ground - which I told them increases my fear that their failure to act will lead to an escalation of violence," she said in the statement.

The statement also said the White House promised Heitkamp to consult the Corps on the matter.

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