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Sanders praises Obama for blocking Dakota Access Pipeline

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders

Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has praised US President Barack Obama for halting the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

On Sunday, the US Army Corps of Engineers blocked construction of a disputed segment of the Dakota Access Pipeline, delivering a major victory for Native Americans and climate activists who have staged months of protests.

In a statement on Sunday evening, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who has been an outspoken opponent of the multi-billion-dollar project pipeline, hailed Obama for "listening to the Native American people and millions of others who believe this pipeline should not be built."

"In the year 2016, we should not continue to trample on Native American sovereignty. We should not endanger the water supply of millions of people. We should not become more dependent on fossil fuel and accelerate the planetary crisis of climate change. Our job now is to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels, not to produce more greenhouse gas emissions,” he stated.

The Dakota Access Pipeline had been planned to cross under the Missouri River and Lake Oahe, which are drinking water sources for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The lake is a reservoir formed by a dam on the river.

Military veterans arrive to support activists at Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota. (Photo by AFP)

The 1,172-mile multi-billion-dollar project pipeline had been complete except for a segment that was set to run under Lake Oahe.

"The Army will not grant an easement to cross Lake Oahe at the proposed location based on the current record," a statement from the US Army said.

However, some tribal leaders are worried that their victory may prove short-lived as the incoming Trump administration could reverse the decision.

Republican President-elect Donald Trump has stated that he supports the controversial project. He will take over from President Obama on January 20.

The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Native American tribes have for months been seeking to stop the pipeline, owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, because they say it will harm their drinking water and sacred sites.

US Senator Bernie Sanders (C) speaks during a rally in front of the White House in Washington, DC, September 13, 2016. (AFP)

In September, Sanders joined a large number of activists, including members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations, who had gathered outside the White House in Washington, DC.

"This pipeline must be stopped!" the senator shouted. "Stop the pipeline, respect Native American rights and let us move forward to transform our energy systems away from fossil fuels."

"We cannot allow our drinking water to be poisoned so that a handful of fossil fuel companies can make even more in profits," Sanders told the cheering crowd.

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