North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum says he believes the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline will eventually be built.
Burgum is now asking protesters to clean up their camp before spring floodwaters create a potential, ecological disaster.
Burgum, a software business owner with no political experience, was elected in a landslide on a platform of streamlining government and improving relations across the state.
Burgum sold his company to Microsoft Corp. in 2001.
When speaking of then-President Trump moving into the White House, Burgum told Reuters, “I expect the world’s going to change dramatically on that day, relative to finding resolution on this issue. I would expect that Energy Transfer Partners will get its easement and it will go through.”
Opponents of the project have said construction could damage sacred lands and that potential leaks could pollute the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
A large group of Native Americans, environmentalists, Hollywood stars, and veterans of the U.S. armed forces have protested the $3.8 billion oil project at a North Dakota camp. At one point, the protesters’ camp held more than 5,000 individual, though that number has decreased during the winter.
Last month, President Barack Obama denied a key permit needed to complete the pipeline, but Trump has said he will review that decision.
David Archambault, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, has repeatedly asked protesters to leave the area and let the pipeline fight play out in courts.
Gov. Burgum agrees with Archambault and has asked protesters to help clean up the camp before it threatens the environment, itself. As of now, there are over 300 vehicles and large groups of temporary dwellings that are abandoned at the campsite.
The large campsite sits in a flood plain with a great chance of being overrun by spring rain and snowmelt; state officials are concerned that floodwaters could carry any abandoned materials away.
Burgum said, “The amount of cleanup that needs to take place is enormous. We’ve got a potential ecological disaster if this land floods and all the debris flows downstream into tribal lands.”
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