President Trump issues executive orders to revive Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects

The president's executive orders could do lead to damage to the environment, critics fear

By Matthew Rozsa
January 25, 2017 12:20AM (UTC)
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This Sept. 29, 2016 file photo, shows a section of the Dakota Access Pipeline under construction near the town of St. Anthony in Morton County, N.D. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)

President Donald Trump signed executive orders on Tuesday that revived the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects and hastened the environmental review process that infrastructure projects are required to undergo.

He also used the opportunity to hammer home one of his favorite political themes — that he plans on relying on American products made by American workers.


"I am very insistent that if we’re going to build pipelines in the United States, the pipe should be made in the United States," Trump said upon issuing the executive orders, adding, "From now on we’re going to be making pipeline in the United States. We build the pipelines, we want to build the pipe. We’re going to put a lot of workers, a lot of skilled workers, back to work. We will build our own pipeline. We will build our own pipes, like we used to in the old days."

As a result of his executive orders, the president will renegotiate pipeline deals so that Energy Transfer Partners may end up being able to install 1,100 feet of pipes under Lake Oahe to transport oil from North Dakota to Illinois, despite protests from Native American groups, such as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. And TransCanada may soon be able to build its Keystone XL pipeline despite former president Barack Obama's concerns that it could exacerbate climate change due to the energy released when extracting tar sands crude.

"Today, President Trump ignored the voices of millions and put the short-term profits of the fossil fuel industry ahead of the future of our planet," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, in a statement. "At a time when the scientific community is virtually unanimous in telling us that climate change is real, it is caused by human activity and it is already causing devastating problems, we cannot afford to build new oil pipelines that lock us into burning fossil fuels for years to come. I will do everything I can to stop these pipelines and protect our planet for future generations."


Sanders' dismay was shared by Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

"President Trump is legally required to honor our treaty rights and provide a fair and reasonable pipeline process," Archambault said on Tuesday. "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."

On the other hand, Trump received support from Democratic senators whose states are poised to benefit from the pipelines' construction.


Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, said Trump's executive orders on the pipelines "are a needed step" toward American energy independence.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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