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Mountains of trash, abandoned pets left behind by Dakota Access Pipeline protesters

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent $1.1 million and utilized 835 dumpsters in cleaning up after the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters. After President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January to move the project forward, the protesters finally cleared out, leaving mountains of waste behind.

Last month, when protesters were told to leave by Feb. 22 or face arrest, they responded by lighting their campsite, waste and plastic on fire. Ironically, the fires released greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, harming the environment protesters claimed to be working to protect. The massive piles of trash left behind also posed a significant threat to the waterways if the impending melting snow and ice washed the garbage into the Missouri River system, necessitating the rapid cleanup. Also, a dozen pets were left behind and had to be rescued by a local shelter.

The number of protesters — many of whom traveled long distances to the remote North Dakota countryside protest site — had swelled to over 10,000, and the crowd wore out its welcome. In the end, even the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation sits on land near the pipeline's route and are spearheading the legal challenges to the pipeline's constitutions, repeatedly asked protesters to leave for safety and environmental reasons, saying the fight over the pipeline belongs in the courts.

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