Trump Changes the Game on Dakota Access Pipeline

President Donald Trump signed several executive orders to advance the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines yesterday. In total, Trump signed five orders regarding environmental issues in the Oval Office, including two which address the pipeline projects and actions to expedite environmental reviews for projects considered high priority.

“The regulatory process in this country has become a tangled up mess,” Trump said.

Trump, who told reporters gathered in the Oval Office that any pipeline material used to construct a pipeline in the United States would be built domestically, also added that his actions on the Keystone and Dakota Access projects would be subject to terms and conditions currently being negotiated by the United States.

Those who back the pipeline say Trump’s action will create more jobs and cut energy costs. Speaking at a roundtable with automobile industry leaders earlier yesterday, Trump announced a “very big push” from his administration to have companies produce products within the country.

“Our friends that wanna build in the United States, they go many, many years and then they can’t get the environmental permit over something that nobody ever heard of before,” he said at the time. “And it’s absolutely crazy. I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist. I believe in it. But it’s out of control and we’re going to make a very short process and we’re going to either give you your permits or we’re not going to give you your permits, but you’re going to know very quickly.”

The orders Trump signed:

  • An order expediting the Keystone XL pipeline a proposed 1,179-mile cross-border pipeline from Alberta to Nebraska. (Read it HERE.)
  • An order directing the Army Secretary to “review and approve in an expedited manner” the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Read it HERE.)
  • An order requiring the Secretary of Commerce to create a plan to mandate American-made steel for new pipelines in the United States. (Read it HERE.)
  • An order to all federal agencies to review manufacturing regulations. (Read it HERE.)
  • An order to expedite approval of “high priority” projects. (Read it HERE.)

But the president’s decision has angered environmental activists who believe the pipeline projects would have severe negative impacts on the areas where they are built and would encourage the nation to rely more heavily on fossil fuels. In particular, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has tried to block the planned $3.7 billion oil pipeline which would transport fracked crude from North Dakota’s Bakken oil field to a refinery in southern Illinois. The tribal leadership has alleged that the project could destroy sacred lands, but their attempts to block construction in court have been unsuccessful. Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas-based pipeline operator, had moved forward, building on lands indigenous leaders say contain sacred burial grounds.

Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Armchambault II (Credit: Source.)

Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II told reporters that the Sioux will take immediate action to fight Trump’s executive order. “The Trump administration’s politically motivated decision violates the law and the Tribe will take legal action to fight it,” he said. “We are not opposed to energy independence. We are opposed to reckless and politically motivated development projects, like DAPL, that ignore our treaty rights and risk our water. Creating a second Flint does not make America great again.”

Trump’s orders lie in stark contrast to a decision made by the Army Corps of Engineers in December to deny a permit to access and drill under Lake Oahe, a key section of the Dakota Access Pipeline. According to Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Works, the decision was based on a need to explore alternate routes after choosing to delay the decision on the easement to discuss with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation lies a half mile south of the proposed crossing.

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