President Donald Trump has taken a major step in advancing the construction of two oil pipeline projects, marking a massive moment in a months-long international story. The president signed executive actions Tuesday to advance the approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota access oil pipelines, wiping away the efforts of former President Barack Obama to block construction of the exact same projects.
The documents signed by the president also included a declaration that oil pipelines constructed in the U.S. should be built with American-made materials as well as speeding up the regulatory processes for construction and making the environmental review process of such projects shorter.
“If they’d like, we’ll see if we can get that pipeline built,” Trump said, referring to a stipulation that the order is subject to a renegotiation of terms by the US. “A lot of jobs. 28,000 jobs. Great construction jobs.”
As he signed orders with regard to the regulatory processes of building pipelines on US soil, the president had this to say: “This is about streamlining the incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible permitting process and reducing regulatory burdens for domestic manufacturing. Many of the people that we’ve been meeting with – over a long period of time – but yesterday, the process is so long and cumbersome that they give up before the end. Sometimes it takes many, many years. And we don’t want that to happen. If it’s a no, we’ll give them a quick no. And if it’s a yes then let’s start building. The regulatory process in this country has become a tangled up mess. Very unfair to people.”
The next order signed by President Trump was aimed at expediting environmental reviews in the same way, only for infrastructure projects.
Since completion of the 1,172 mile-long pipeline was stalled last year, protests by a number of Native American tribes in Iowa and the Dakotas have made this a global story, most notably the stand-off near the Standing Rock reservation.
“President Trump is legally required to honor our treaty rights and provide a fair and reasonable pipeline process,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement. “Americans know this pipeline was unfairly rerouted towards our nation and without our consent. The existing pipeline route risks infringing on our treaty rights, contaminating our water and the water of 17 million Americans downstream.”
With this movement taking place just four days into Donald Trump’s presidency, it’s a notable moment to consider how this administration will be approaching impactful environmental issues in the future. Much work was done by President Obama to block construction of the two pipelines, which means new waves of new protests should be expected. Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline near Standing Rock, still needs legal permission from the Army Corps of Engineers to drill under Lake Oahe. The Army Corps of Engineers did say last month they would deny easement to complete that final stretch of construction and suggested exploring an alternative route, which Energy Transfer Partners says they will not do.