Trump clears way for controversial oil pipelines

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<span class="articleLocation”>U.S. President Donald Trump signed two executive
orders on Tuesday to move forward with construction of the
controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines,
rolling back key Obama administration environmental policies in
favor of expanding energy infrastructure.

While oil producers in Canada and North Dakota are expected
to benefit from a quicker route for crude oil to U.S. Gulf Coast
refiners, a revival of the projects would mark a bitter defeat
for Native American tribes and climate activists, who vowed to
fight the decisions through legal action.

Trump campaigned on promises to increase domestic energy
production and before taking office indicated he supported
completion of the Dakota pipeline and re-starting the C$8
billion ($6.1 billion) Keystone XL project, which was rejected
in 2015 by then-President Barack Obama.

Protesters had rallied for months against plans to route the
$3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a lake near the
Standing Rock Sioux reservation, saying it threatened water
resources and sacred Native American sites.

It is not yet clear how exactly the orders will move the
projects forward.

In a statement, the Standing Rock Sioux said they would
fight the decision.

“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,” said Dave
Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock tribe.

The North Dakota Petroleum Council, the trade group for the
state’s oil producers who are relying on Dakota Access to expand
their crude transport options, cheered Trump’s order.

“We think this is a great step forward for energy security
in America,” said Ron Ness, the council’s president.

The more than 800,000 bpd Keystone XL pipeline linking
Canada’s oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast was conceived nearly a
decade ago. Since then, however, the U.S. shale revolution has
redefined oil flows, with domestic refiners suddenly finding
themselves awash with plentiful supply and needing fewer foreign

Canadian Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said in
Calgary that TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL has all the
regulatory approvals it needs in Canada, and that the project
would be “very positive for Canada.”

Environmental activists broadly opposed the Keystone XL
pipeline and campaigned against it for more than seven years,
eventually winning a victory when Obama rejected the project in

“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,” Trip Van Noppen,
president of nonprofit environmental law organization
Earthjustice said in a statement.

TransCanada shares last traded up 2.6 percent on the Toronto
Stock Exchange. The company did not immediately respond to a
request for comment on Tuesday.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in January said it would
begin an environmental assessment that could delay the Dakota
project further. It is not clear if Trump’s order supersedes
that move, and the Standing Rock statement suggested the order
circumvents the environmental review.

The tribe won a key victory when the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers in early December turned down Energy Transfer
Partners’ request for an easement to tunnel under the
nearby Missouri River.

Most of the 1,172-mile (1,885 km) Dakota pipeline was
completed by the summer of 2016, except for a small section
under Lake Oahe, a reservoir that forms part of the river.

Trump on Monday met with leaders of labor unions, including
the Building and Construction trades group and the Laborers
International Union of North America, who have been vocal
supporters of both pipeline projects.

Both groups had endorsed Trump rival Hillary Clinton in the
2016 U.S. election, but disagreed with her opposition to the
Keystone pipeline.

In a statement on Tuesday, the U.S. Teamsters Union noted
that the pipelines would “put thousands of Americans” to work.

Trump, speaking on Tuesday in Washington, said Keystone XL
would create 28,000 jobs, but that figure is at odds with a 2014
U.S. State Department environmental study, which said the
project would create 3,900 U.S. construction jobs and 35
permanent jobs.

Shares of ETP, the company building the 450,000 barrel-a-day
Dakota pipeline, were up 3.7 percent in U.S. trading.

Trump owned ETP stock through at least mid-2016, according
to financial disclosure forms, and ETP’s chief executive, Kelcy
Warren, donated $100,000 to his campaign. U.S. Energy Secretary
nominee Rick Perry was until recently on ETP’s board.

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