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Trump signs executive actions to advance Keystone, Dakota Access pipelines

Keystone XL has been at the center of one of the largest opposition campaigns in the history of the environmental movement.


President Donald Trump signed executive actions on Tuesday to advance the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, setting off a clash with Democrats and environmental activists who vehemently oppose the projects.

Keystone XL has been at the center of one of the largest opposition campaigns in the history of the environmental movement, with activists conducting a years-long campaign to kill the project. Former President Barack Obama rejected Keystone in 2015 after a lengthy analysis of the pipeline.

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During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly promised to green-light Keystone XL, which if completed would carry Canadian oil sands crude from Alberta to Texas.

Trump has also said that he wants the U.S. government to get 25 percent of Keystone’s profits. Negotiating that type of unusual deal with Keystone developer TransCanada and the Canadian government would likely prove difficult.

It’s unclear exactly how Trump will advance Keystone. He could undo a 2004 George W. Bush administration order that requires a broad inter-agency review led by the State Department of cross-border pipeline projects, a move that would make it easier to approve the project.

While Trump has long been expected to take steps to approve Keystone, two people familiar with the issue said Trump administration officials have had little communication with the State Department in the runup to the executive actions. One of those people said State did not sign off on the executive actions.

Building Keystone XL faces a number of obstacles. The pipeline is still awaiting approval from Nebraska state regulators for its proposed route, and many landowners in the state are opposed to the project.

“There’s so many other things that come along with Keystone XL that Trump is going to have to deal with: that it’s foreign oil, that they’re using foreign steel and they’re using eminent domain to take land away from people who voted for him,” said Nebraska-based anti-Keystone activist Jane Kleeb. “I think Trump is not prepared for the amount for the amount of protests from Nebraska Republicans that are coming his way.”

The planned 1,100-mile Dakota Access pipeline, which would run from North Dakota to Illinois, has also become a focal point of progressive opposition to fossil fuel projects. Native American tribes joined with activists in protests that have occasionally turned violent and caught national attention over the last few months.

Any move to approve the pipelines will face legal challenges from environmental groups, and Democrats and activists immediately bashed Trump over the pending actions.

Jamie Henn, co-founder of the environmental group 350.org, promised that greens will fight Trump.

“We’re going to fight Keystone XL and Dakota Access along the route, but we’re also going to jiu jitsu this attack into energy to take on fossil fuel infrastructure all across the country,” he said.

“While countries like China and Germany continue to make progress in their transition away from the dirty energy of the past, this action will roll back the progress we have made,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said in a statement. “Encouraging the production of this oil, which includes Canadian tar sands – one of the dirtiest fuels in the world — is a huge step backward.”

Trump previously owned between between $ 15,000 and $ 50,000 of stock in Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline. He sold his stake in the company last year. Rick Perry, Trump’s nominee for energy secretary, sat on Energy Transfer Partners’ board, but he resigned earlier this month.

Earlier Tuesday at a meeting with auto industry executives, Trump criticized the sometimes lengthy process required to secure environmental permits required to build infrastructure projects.

“Our friends that wanna build in the United States, they go many, many years and then they can’t get the environmental permit over something that nobody ever heard of before,” he said. “And it’s absolutely crazy. I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist. I believe in it. But it’s out of control.”

– Josh Dawsey contributed to this report

Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

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