U.S. President Donald Trump signed two executive orders on Tuesday to continue with the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, a move that clearly reverses some of the prominent policy achievements of the Obama administration to promote his environmental agenda.
One of the key selling points that Trump put forward during his campaign was to increase domestic energy production. In addition to this, Donald Trump never hid his preference for the completion of the $3.8 billion Dakota Pipeline in spite of the position of the environmentalists.
Environmental activists campaigned against the policy for more than seven years before Obama’s administration penned an end to it in late 2015 in light of U.S. efforts to reach a global climate change deal. The environmentalists’ concern was the routing of the multi-billion dollar pipeline underneath a lake near the Standing Sioux reservation. They argued that the modalities of a project of that nature would threaten water sources for the Native American Standing Sioux Tribe and native American sites.
Interestingly, Trump doesn’t share such concerns going by his recent action on the matter.
President Trump’s signing of the order has attracted different reactions not unexpected for a matter as controversial as the Dakota Pipeline.
Dakota Pipeline [Image By Ashley Still & Christine Chan/Reuters Graphics]
Speaking on behalf of his native American tribe, Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Tribe, said, “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.”
Trump’s presidential move might be interpreted as a defeat for the tribe as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in early December refused to agree to Energy Transfer Partners’ request for an easement to tunnel in the nearby Missouri river.
Echoing Archambault’s sentiments is Trip Van Noppen, who presides over the nonprofit Earthjustice.
He declared, “President Trump appears to be ignoring the law, public sentiment and ethical considerations with this executive order aimed at resurrecting the long-rejected Keystone XL pipeline and circumventing the ongoing environmental review process for the highly controversial Dakota Access pipeline.”
However, some do agree with Trump. One of these is the North Dakota Petroleum Council, a group of oil traders who are banking on the Dakota Access to expand the movement of their crude transport.
“We think this is a great step forward for energy security in America,” Ron Ness, president of the group, said in a statement.
In a similar reaction to Trump’s move on the Keystone XL pipeline, the Canadian Minister of Natural Resources, Jim Carr, said while attending a federal cabinet retreat, “We have been supportive of this since the day we were sworn into government. We believe it’s a good project for both Canada and the United States.”
Carr also praised Trump’s move in light of the fact that the Keystone XL project would directly create 4,500 jobs for Canada. He also added that approvals are in place for the project in the northern nation.
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is a 1,900-km project that will run from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska.
As a result of Trump’s action, TransCanada, the company that proposed the Keystone XL, moved up by more than three points and traded up 2.4 percent in New York and 2.6 percent on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Similarly, Energy Transfer Equity LP and Energy Transfer Partners LP, both developers of the Dakota project, moved up by as much as 4 percent and 4.8 percent respectively.
Donald Trump’s order follows in the footsteps of his annulment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a voluminous trade deal that included the U.S. and 11 other nations including Canada, Mexico, Japan, and others. In addition to this, he also ordered a ban on federal hiring and funding for overseas family planning groups that help women who seek abortions. These actions are proof of his “America First” foreign policy doctrine; a cardinal feature of his controversial campaign.
[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]