Trump Revives Both Controversial Keystone XL And Dakota Access Oil Pipelines

Dakota Access pipeline protesters

Protesters against the Dakota Access pipeline stood their ground even during the bitter winter. Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

If there was any confusion before about President Trump’s stance on the environment, there certainly isn’t now. In his first week in office, he has rolled back the progress made by environmentalists and Native Americans by reviving both the contentious Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, in addition to suggesting that he will ease up other environmental protection laws.  

The previous administration had come under increasing pressure regarding the two pipelines, the first of which is proposed to run from the Canadian tar sands in Alberta to Nebraska, while the second is to go from North Dakota to Illinois. Many saw the decision to build the pipelines as counterintuitive to the United States' commitments to reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and cutting its carbon emissions.


The Dakota Access pipeline was also wracked by fierce protests against its proposed route through the disputed territory of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s land, and the risk it would pose to their water source as it passed over the Missouri River, which runs adjacent to their reservation. The protests culminated in a permanent camp being established with thousands of people descending on the site, including army veterans, when President Obama finally decided to halt construction.

But now President Trump has reneged on both these rulings. Signing an executive memorandum inviting the company building the Keystone XL pipeline to “promptly resubmit its application to the Department of State for a presidential permit,” it is expected he will give them go ahead on the condition they build it using American steel.


It seems, though, that there is a mounting resistance to such projects within the US, as protests have been growing at the site of a third proposed pipeline down in Florida. Slated to run from Alabama to Central Florida, protests against the Sabal Trail pipeline have been expanding after the initial success at Standing Rock. The pipeline is planned to go under the clear waters of the Suwannee River, with protesters claiming that the construction will threaten not only the natural beauty of the waterway, immortalized in culture and song, but also the water supply of millions of people.  

Yet it is not only the pipelines that are in Trump's sights. Meeting with auto industry executives, he signed a directive to end protracted environmental reviews that will allow them to build new plants, saying "I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist. But it’s out of control,” before going on to tell them "...we’re going to be giving you your permits. We’re gonna be very friendly.”


While many environmentalists thought that President Trump may temper his views when sworn into office, it now seems that will be unlikely, as he continues to push against the controls and protections currently in place, in pursuit of jobs and industry.


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