Executive Order: Dakota Access & Keystone XL Pipeline To Move Forward?
On January 24th, President Trump made a statement by signing off on the continuation of two major oil pipelines that have made headlines in the United States: The Dakota Access and Keystone XL. One of the documents signed invites the company behind Keystone XL, TransCanada, to resubmit a proposal for the project which had been rejected earlier in 2015 by the Obama administration. President Trump also encourages Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, to continue working on the original route of the nearly completed project.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a 1,172-mile long underground oil pipeline that begins in North Dakota and travels through South Dakota and Iowa, ending in Patoka, Illinois. This project has caused much controversy due to the invasion of sacred Native American land and potential harm to the environment. The Obama administration played a large role in halting this completion, but now that President Trump has put his signature on these documents, it is a possibility that the project will be completed and run underneath the Missouri River.
According to TransCanada, the Keystone XL is a proposed 1,179 mile, 36-inch diameter crude oil pipeline that will begin in Hardisty, Alberta and extend to Steele City, Kansas. Trump claims that the Keystone XL project will generate roughly 28,000 jobs for the US, which is one the big reasons he is adamant about its completion. However, it is extremely important to note that the majority of these jobs are temporary, and will be terminated upon completion of the pipeline. The Keystone pipeline already runs from Canada to refineries in Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas. This “XL” means export limited and will be phase four of the project if it is completed.
This bold move by the Trump administration has sparked great controversy and protests from climate activists across the nation, who are aware and greatly concerned about the potential consequences of these projects. Not only will these oil pipelines increase climate change risk, but the possible threat of spillage across the country also has many people genuinely concerned about direct environmental harm. According to the US Department of Transportation, Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, most cleanup of pipeline spills is only partially successful, leaving thousands of barrels of oil on our land and in our water. Each year, more than 31,000 barrels of oil are NOT cleaned up in the US following spills...which is painful to grasp. From the data they’ve collected, there have been roughly 8,000 incidents since 1986 (averaging 300 per year), which have resulted in over 500 deaths, 2,300 injuries, and $7 BILLION in damage. Does it still sound like a good idea to invest in even more pipelines across our country??
The final permit on the Dakota Access Pipeline was blocked in December of 2016, and is currently under review by the Army Corps of Engineers. They are working on an environmental assessment of the route where the pipeline would cross under the Missouri River, and those in the nearby Standing Rock Sioux tribe hope that their sacred land is ruled environmentally unsafe to pass through. This assessment seems like the tribe’s last chance to save their land...because if the engineers pass this project, there is no turning back.
Out of all the people affected by the news of the Trump administration’s decision, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe is certainly the most directly at risk. The tribe recently released a statement through the American Civil Liberties Union stating, "Trump's decision to give the go-ahead for the Dakota Access Pipeline is a slap in the face to Native Americans and a blatant disregard for the rights to their land." In this statement they also mentioned how they "should allow careful environmental impact analysis to be completed with full and meaningful participation of affected tribes."
Members of these tribes and other activist groups across the nation have voiced their unrest with this decision by the Trump administration. Some of the organizations involved in supporting the tribes are Action Alert! from National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the Indigenous Environmental Organization, and Water Protective Legal Collective. These groups will continue to support the tribes and their protesting on the North Dakota prairie near the route where the pipeline would be. In recent news, many tribe members have noted that the news of Trump reviewing and advancing the oil pipelines projects has not come as a surprise to them. This is what he and his administration were advocating during the election, and it isn’t a surprise to many that he continues to sign off and push things he said he would try to do during his first days in office. For environmentalists and activists worldwide, it has been an incredibly rough week, but has also proven their strength and determination to fight for a healthy planet.
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I am a driven college student in the midst of completing a management & marketing degree. My aspirations include using social media and news as a tool to raise awareness about environmental issues all over the world. Spreading the word about renewable energy, climate change, and cutting edge technology is the key to bringing people together on these matters.
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