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Updated: 7:26 a.m. | Posted: 5:51 a.m.

A monthslong protest over the Dakota Access oil pipeline reached its most chaotic pitch yet when hundreds of law enforcement officers moved in to force activists off private property.

Thursday's nearly six-hour operation dramatically escalated the dispute over Native American rights and the project's environmental impact, with officers in riot gear firing bean bags and pepper spray.

• More: Tribe leader calls for peace and prayers • FAQ: The Dakota Access pipeline and protest

Bill Radke speaks with Seattle Times environment reporter Lynda Mapes Thursday morning about the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Mapes is on the scene in North Dakota where the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and hundreds of supporters are continuing a months-long protest against the construction of a pipeline. 

Police moved in on Thursday to disperse protesters who have moved the front line of their demonstration onto private land. 

Bill Radke speaks with Vancounver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer about pollution coming from an American tug boat that ran aground in British Columbia a couple of weeks ago. The tug was pulling a fuel barge and while the fuel barge is fine, the tug is still stuck and it's leaking diesel. 

The five climate activists arrested after shutting down Canada-to-U.S. pipelines pose for a photo. They were identified by Climate Direct Action as (left to right): Emily Johnson, Annette Klapstein, Leonard Higgins, Ken Ward and Michael Foster.
Courtesy of Climate Direct Action

Three people were arraigned in Skagit County Superior Court Thursday on charges related to Oct. 11 demonstrations against oil pipelines.  A lawyer said two of those people are journalists who did nothing to warrant the criminal charges. 

The fight over transporting crude oil has spread across the northern U.S., with protesters disrupting pipelines that carry crude from Canada into the U.S. At least one protester has been injured and dozens have been arrested since Monday.

Protesters -- all from the Pacific Northwest -- were arrested Tuesday at all five sites across the northern U.S. where pipelines deliver oil from Canada’s oil sands to American refineries.

The pipelines cross the U.S.-Canadian border in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and Washington state.

The company behind the oil-by-rail terminal proposed for the Port of Vancouver announced new safety measures Friday. It hopes they will quell fears about the project.

Oil company Tesoro says it wants to prove to the community and regulators that it takes safety concerns seriously.

A new proposed ballot initiative in Spokane, Washington, could prohibit coal and oil companies from transporting their products through the city by rail. It comes after the city council rolled back a similar effort last month.

This time around, the proposal targets the owners of the rail cars and not the railroad companies tasked with transporting them.

Regulators say an oil terminal proposed for a coastal Washington state harbor poses several environmental problems.

The state Department of Ecology identified those problems in its final environmental review released Friday for the Westway oil terminal proposed at the Port of Grays Harbor in Hoquiam, Washington.

A county planning commission has given its approval to a rail expansion in the same stretch of the Columbia River Gorge where a Union Pacific oil train derailed and burst into flames.

The derailment in June resulted in an oil spill that contaminated groundwater. It also galvanized opposition to increased oil train traffic in the Northwest.

Over the last several years, scientists, including those at the U.S. Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency, have linked an increase in earthquakes in Texas to oil and gas activity. But, industry and Texas state regulators remain reluctant to publicly acknowledge it.  Now, a study that looks at the quakes from space might put more pressure on them to do so.


Gabe Galanda is an attorney specializing in Native American law
KUOW Photo/Caroline Chamberlain

Bill Radke sits down with Seattle-based lawyer Gabe Galanda to talk about the protests surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Galanda opposes the pipeline and joined the protests in North Dakota earlier this month.

He also helped draft a resolution in opposition to construction of the pipeline that was introduced at a Seattle City Council meeting Monday.

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Andrew Cullen/Reuters

For weeks, members of the Standing Rock Sioux have gathered in Cannonball, North Dakota standing against what's known as the Dakota Access pipeline.

The 1,172-mile pipeline is a $3.7 billion dollar project that would carry about 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day from North Dakota to Illinois.

Its route would take the pipeline under the Missouri River, just upstream from the Standing Rock reservation, and Sioux tribal members say this would threaten their drinking water and sacred sites.

In North Dakota, work has stopped on one section of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. Still, over the weekend protesters continued to stream into camps set up near the construction site.

One protest camp is about an hour's drive south of Bismarck. A prairie there is covered with tepees, tents and RVs. Flags from tribes around the country line the dirt road into the camp.

A plan to make room for more oil trains in the Columbia River Gorge is moving closer to a decision.

The Wasco County Planning Commission heard testimony Tuesday on a proposal to build a second set of Union Pacific Railroad tracks along the Oregon side of the Columbia River.

Thousands of protesters have descended on a quiet part of North Dakota, occasionally clashing with security personnel over plans to build an oil pipeline under the Missouri River.

Lawsuits are pitting Native American tribes and environmental activists against the Energy Transfer Partners pipeline company.

Amy Sisk, a reporter with Inside Energy, discusses the latest with Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it does not oppose the temporary halt of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.8 billion oil pipeline slated to run through four states, including North Dakota.

As we've reported, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe opposes the pipeline because it fears it could disturb sacred sites and affect the drinking water.

New rules are taking effect in Washington that require railroads to prove their readiness for an oil train spill.

The rules, adopted this week, will require railroads to file plans informing the state Department of Ecology of the steps they will take if an oil train derails and spills. The state then reviews those plans and puts railroads through drills to test their preparedness.

Spill planning was a longtime gap in oil train safety.

Railroads in Washington must now meet the same planning requirements as other forms of oil transport such as pipelines and ships.

Members of eight Washington tribes took lessons they learned last spring with them to North Dakota last week, where the Standing Rock Sioux are opposing the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Construction of a controversial crude oil pipeline set to span at least 1,168 miles from North Dakota to Illinois has temporarily been halted in North Dakota amid protests by Native American tribes.

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux fear the pipeline could potentially contaminate their local drinking water and lands sacred to the tribe.

Washington gubernatorial candidates touched on the topic of oil trains during their first debate of the season in Spokane Wednesday.

A measure that was added to the November ballot less than a month ago would have imposed fines on rail cars transporting fossil fuels through the heart of Spokane. On Monday night, the city council opted to withdraw it.

Two weeks ago, the Spokane City Council approved a ballot measure that garnered national attention. It would impose a fine on every rail car that transports coal or oil through the heart of the city.  Monday the council could consider its withdrawal.

An Oregon judge Friday upheld the state's denial of a permit needed by a coal export proposal on the Columbia River.

Back in 2014, the Oregon Department of State lands denied a permit for the Morrow Pacific project to construct a dock in Boardman, Oregon, a component of the project's plan to ship coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana down the Columbia River and eventually overseas to Asia.

If it had to happen, the worst case scenario couldn’t have played out more smoothly. That’s the sentiment in Mosier, Oregon, where a train loaded with highly volatile Bakken crude oil derailed two months ago.

Oil that spilled from a derailed train in the Columbia River Gorge in June contaminated nearby groundwater. Starting in the next week, Union Pacific Railroad will be working with Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality to clean it up.

Bill Radke speaks with KUOW's environmental reporter Ashley Ahearn about the growing debate around oil trains traveling through Washington state and why we are in the crosshairs for even more trains carrying crude oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. 

Thick black smoke that spewed from a derailed oil train burning in Mosier, Oregon, was not the visual Vancouver Port Commissioner Jerry Oliver wanted in people’s minds.

“It was unfortunate for the community," Oliver said. "It’s also unfortunate because it gives a tremendous black eye to anything related to fossil fuels.”

Oliver has been a vocal supporter of what would be the largest oil-by-trail terminal in the country, known as the Vancouver Energy Project. It’s controversial, to the point Oliver said he’s even lost friends over his stance.

After last month's fiery oil train derailment in the Columbia River Gorge, federal regulators put the blame on Union Pacific Road for failing to maintain its track.

Soon questions arose about the railroad's safety record. Watchdog groups compared Union Pacific's track maintenance standards to those employed by BNSF Railway, the West's other major carrier, which also runs oil trains through the Columbia Gorge. (BNSF's tracks run along the Washington side of the river.)

Spokane’s City Council Monday voted on a November ballot initiative that would make the shipment of oil or coal by rail through the city a civil infraction. If it passes, every rail car carrying oil or uncovered coal will generate a $261 fine.

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