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Rochester protesters rally for 'Standing Rock' Sioux tribe

Rochester protestors rally for 'Standing Rock' Sioux tribe (WHAM Photo)

ROCHESTER— Hundreds of people lined the streets of Downtown Rochester Saturday in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline project.

It’s an oil pipeline that will stretch 1,200 miles underground through the Missouri River. It has garnered national attention because part of the river is the primary drinking source for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in central North and South Dakota.

“It's our job to protect this land, it’s all we have,” said protester Dalton Labarge. “It’s our livelihood.”

Labarge stands in solidarity with hundreds of people across the country to block the $4 billion project.

An energy company was approved to build it to transport more than 500,000 barrels of crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois.

“We’re putting our foot down to say we come before corporate mineral extraction and corporate welfare,” Labarge said.

“I think it is so critical that we hear their voices now in regards to their land and how this pipeline will impact or may impact their lives,” said Rachael Hittinger, a protester from Brighton.

Critics say the pipeline will eventually affect the climate and mess with the drinking water for 10,000 people of the tribe. In retrospect, builders for the project have repeatedly argued that they’ve taken measures to safeguard the environment.

“It’s not a matter of if the pipeline will explode, it’s a matter of when,” said protest organizer, Athesia Benjamin. “That water in the sacred land is too precious to be threatened and corrupted.”

Advocates for the project say the pipeline would be a major boost to our billion dollar oil industry.

The federal government says the next president elected will have the authority to continue the project or not.

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