On Friday, the Trump administration announced a $1.9 billion plan to drill into a massive, dormant portion of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, a project that is a major source of fuel for the US economy.
The pipeline is the largest piece of infrastructure in the US and, as of 2019, it was estimated to carry more than 6,000,000 barrels of oil per day.
The move, which was applauded by environmentalists, comes as the Trump White House has come under pressure to tackle the growing environmental impacts of the project, which has already caused the closure of at least two major coal ports.
In a letter to the Trump Administration on Friday, representatives of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a Native American tribe in North Dakota, said that they will oppose the decision to drill in the pipeline, arguing that it violates the treaties that the US signed with the tribes.
“The Dakota Access Pipeline is a sacred and sacred land, the only one on earth where Standing Rock and all of its inhabitants have the right to use the sacred lands and waters of the reservation,” the letter read.
“While it may seem that this sacred site is now in danger of being destroyed, it is not, and the tribe will not be silenced by any pipeline or any development.”
The Dakota Access pipeline has been a major issue in the 2016 presidential election.
The Standing Rock tribe has been protesting against the project for years and last month filed a lawsuit against the Trump campaign, alleging that they were behind the $3.8 million purchase of an ad featuring the Dakota Access logo.
The campaign responded to the lawsuit on Monday, telling Al Jazeera that the Trump team was only buying ads and that the Dakota pipeline had no connection to the campaign.
“Our concern is that this is a campaign for the election and that it’s been purchased for political gain, and that is false,” a spokesperson told Al Jazeera.
“This was never a campaign to make money, but a campaign about a pipeline.
That’s the message that we are sending to the entire world.”
Al Jazeera’s Simon Johnson contributed to this report.