Trump Reverses Obama's Rejections of Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines

Fulfilling two campaign promises, President Trump conditionally approved two controversial pipelines to transport oil sands from Alberta and Bakken oil from North Dakota, certain to stir opposition from environmentalists and Native Americans.

January 24, 2017, 2:00 PM PST

By Irvin Dawid

Dakota Access Pipeline

The Dakota Access Pipeline where it crosses Iowa. | Carl Wycoff / Flickr

At a signing ceremony on Tuesday, President Trump reversed former President Obama's rejection of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, though he "emphasized that the construction isn't a done deal, reported Gregory Korte, for USA TODAY. "It's something that subject to a renegotiation of terms by us," he said. "We'll see if we can get the pipeline built."

Similarly, Trump signed an action that revives the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline that was halted last month by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The "executive memorandum direct(s) the Army 'to review and approve in an expedited manner the pipeline, 'to the extent permitted by law and as warranted," report Peter Baker and Coral Davenport for The New York Times. "In his session with reporters, he added, 'Again, subject to terms and conditions to be negotiated by us.'” 

Reaction from the environmental community is swift.

"Donald Trump has been in office for four days and he’s already proving to be the dangerous threat to our climate we feared he would be," stated Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. "But, these pipelines are far from being in the clear."

Two additional directives expedite the "process of approving and regulating future pipeline and infrastructure projects," adds Korte.

The first was about streamlining the permitting process and reducing the regulatory process "for domestic manufacturing," Trump said. It wasn't clear to this correspondent if this action was directed at pipeline construction or more broadly to other industrial activity..

If it’s a no, we'll give them a quick no, and if it’s a yes, it's like 'Let's start building,' " [Trump] said. "The regulatory process in this country has become a tangled up mess, and very unfair to people."

Donald Trump, environmentalist.

Anticipating criticism from the environmental community, he added (per New York Times):

“I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist, I believe in it. But it’s out of control and we’re going to make it 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. And generally speaking we’re going to be giving you your permits.”

The second was about expediting environmental reviews and approvals for high-priority infrastructure projects," Trump said. Presumably this action was directed at the much anticipated $1 trillion infrastructure plan he has touted but about which he has offered few details.

A fifth action specified that pipes for domestic pipelines be constructed in the United States.

"The directives Trump signed Tuesday were a mix of executive orders and presidential memoranda," points out Korte.

As of press time, none were listed on the White House website.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 in USA Today

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