To the sinking despair of all environmentally and human rights minded activists out there, our new president signed yesterday two executive orders promoting the advancement of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines, as well as a third stating that the materials for all future pipelines must be manufactured in the United States.
Trump seems to be following through on his campaign promises to rid the US of anything eco-friendly. The Sierra Club points out that the Trump Administration has deleted the mention of climate change from the official White House webpage. Instead it was replaced with the following wording: “President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan...We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands...The Trump Administration is also committed to clean coal technology.” Last time I heard, clean coal was an oxymoron.
The irony in these words though falls particularly hard on Native tribes whose lands have been usurped for the building of DAPL. For those like the Standing Rock tribe and their allies who have been fighting the construction of these pipelines, the news about Trump’s pipeline support, while not a surprise (did I mention he is an investor in DAPL?), comes as a huge blow. But people are not backing down, for the alternative of losing this fight is too grand. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement, "President Trump is legally required to honor our treaty rights and provide a fair and reasonable pipeline process. 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."
According to Forbes, the order for Keystone XL gives TransCanada (NYSE:TRP) the opportunity to re-apply for its cross-border permit, and directs the U.S. State Department to "take all actions necessary and appropriate to facilitate its expeditious review". The order also gives the State Department 60 days to issue a final decision. Regarding DAPL, the order gives the US Army Corps of Engineers the power to “take all actions necessary and appropriate” to conduct this review and approve the pipeline “in an expedited manner... to the extent permitted by law and as warranted.” Forbes explains, “This could alternatively mean a) the conduct of the new Environmental Impact Statement and the long administrative process related to it continues uninterrupted, b) the Corps of Engineers decides that the review is in fact unnecessary, halts the process, and orders the project to proceed under the existing permits and EIS, or c) Secretary of Defense James Mattis could issue a Secretarial Decision that halts the process and allows the project to move ahead.”
Tom Steyer, the president of NextGen Climate, accused the Trump administration of putting "corporate interests ahead of American interests." "The pipelines are all risk and no reward, allowing corporate polluters to transport oil through our country to be sold on the global market, while putting our air and water at serious risk," he said in a statement.
"What happened today is an attack on our homes," said Jade Begay, a spokeswoman for the Indigenous Environmental Network, which fights against mining and dumping on native lands. "We are going to continue to show up at your home, Donald Trump." In New York City, about 300 protesters gathered outside the Trump International Hotel and Tower, chanting slogans such as "If all lives matter, then Native lives matter" and "You can't drink oil, even in the soil.