With the stroke of a pen, President Donald Trump ordered federal agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers, to “review and approve in an expedited manner” requests for approval to finish construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. This likely signaled an end to months of protesting. Although opponents of the project vowed to continue their resistance, a recently released document from the Army Corps of Engineers shows that the protests face long odds.
In a December 3, 2016 memo, U.S. Army Corps Col. John Henderson outlined the process by which the Corps determined the environmental impact of the pipeline on Lake Oahe. The memo also lays out the legal arguments supporting its approval and construction, specifically countering several of the protesters’ concerns, including water safety and tribal rights. Henderson concludes by recommending that the easement be granted.
“Corps policy is to grant an easement when it is in the public interest,” wrote Henderson. He further explained that granting the easement would not interfere with the operation of the Corps dam near Lake Oahe and that the proposed pipeline met necessary safety requirements.
According to the memo, construction of the pipeline would in fact improve safety, by shifting oil transportation away from truck and rail.
Mark McManus, president of the Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, & Service Techs and Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning to discuss President Trump’s infrastructure plans and recent executive actions to advance the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines.
Trump’s support for the pipeline projects came a day after McManus and O’Sullivan joined other union leaders at the White House for a meeting with President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and other top aids for a conversation on the nation’s infrastructure needs.
Speaking about Dakota Access, O’Sullivan told co-host Joe Scarborough that the project created thousands of “good middle class jobs,” including 4,500 building trades men and women.
In a separate appearance, McManus and O’Sullivan told Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball” that they were “more than encouraged” by their meeting with Trump and his subsequent executive actions to advance the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines.
“This was a big day,” said O’Sullivan. “Less than 24 hours ago we were in the Roosevelt Room and the Oval Office — Mark, myself, and some other labor leaders — talking about these very issues and in less than 24 hours there’s five executive orders that are going to make a difference in our economy, our country, and in the lives of men and women we represent.”
President Trump is making short work of campaign promises, and on Tuesday he signed executive orders reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. The resurrection is good news for the economy, but one question is whether he’ll sink the projects with his protectionist impulses.
Mr. Trump signed an executive order inviting TransCanada to apply again for a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which the Obama Administration rejected to indulge the anti-carbon obsessions of Democratic campaign donors. Another Trump directive aims to expedite the Dakota Access pipeline, which is 90% finished but was halted by President Obama amid protests. A federal judge ruled that the government had met its legal obligations, but the Obama Administration suspended work anyway.
Such carve outs for progressive constituencies are one reason voters rejected Democrats in November, and the pipelines promise broader prosperity. Keystone is predicted to spin off 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs, many of them to be filled by union workers, and add $3 billion to GDP. The pipeline could move 830,000 barrels a day along the route from Alberta to Nebraska; up to 100,000 would come from North Dakota, where a glut of crude has to travel by rail to reach refineries built to process it. The efficiencies will ripple across the oil and gas industry.
For years, the Obama administration used its executive authority to obstruct two crucial energy infrastructure projects: the Dakota Access pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline.
Today, the obstruction finally came to an end when President Donald Trump signed two executive orders. This action affirms our new president’s respect for the rule of law and his support for responsible infrastructure development, energy production, and job creation.
One of the executive orders directs all federal agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to expedite approval of the easement to complete construction of the Dakota Access pipeline project.
Another order invites the TransCanada Corp. to resubmit its application for the Keystone XL pipeline and directs the State Department to expedite its review.
A pair of agency-directed memos signed Tuesday by President Donald Trump could force completion of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota as well as breathe new life into the Canadian-based Keystone XL pipeline.
Trump’s memo did not grant a drilling easement for the $3.8 billion Dakota Access project to cross U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land on the Missouri River/Lake Oahe but directs the agency to expedite review with the idea that prior reviews already satisfy federal law.
Congressman Kevin Cramer said he believes the memo will force the agency to rescind the decision it made last week to begin a full-blown environmental impact statement on the crossing and issue an easement in short order.
Cramer said he made contact Tuesday with federal law enforcement agencies, including the CIA and the U.S. Marshal service, in anticipation of pushback from hundreds of pipeline protesters camped near the water crossing just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation when construction resumes.
MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens issued the following statement following President Trump’s signing of an executive order directing the federal government to expedite the issuance of the final, already approved, easement for the Dakota Access pipeline:
“We applaud and appreciate President Trump’s immediate and decisive action to expedite the final easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline. President Trump’s decision shows businesses that the rule of law will be respected and demonstrates an affirmation of regulatory certitude to those looking to invest in America.
“The 1,172-mile project has been fully approved by four states and the federal government for months and is more than 95 percent complete at a cost of about $3.5 billion so far. Once operational, it will be among the safest, most technologically advanced pipelines in the world, delivering more than 450,000 barrels of light sweet crude oil per day in an environmentally sensitive and cost effective manner.”
MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens issued the following statement in response to news that President Trump will sign an executive order allowing the Dakota Access Pipeline to move forward:
“We are hopeful and optimistic that President Trump will issue the final easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline and allow Keystone to move forward. It will not only be a positive development for these two projects but also for our nation’s resource development and energy infrastructure as a whole.”
The rhetoric used by protesters on Facebook and other social media profiles shows the divides between not only the protesters and police, but also between the protest camp and the Standing Rock Tribe itself. In the past several weeks, Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault has taken steps to repair relationships with state officials. That goal is not shared by protesters at the camp, who continue to violate a de-escalation agreement between police and the tribe.
Altercations continued throughout the week on Backwater Bridge, just outside of the protest camp. The bridge has been closed since October, when police pushed protesters off of private land. In January, the tribe reached an agreement with area law enforcement. Both sides agreed to withdraw from the bridge and law enforcement agreed not to continually staff the barricade, hoping that the agreement would reduce the number of altercations between police and protesters, a necessary step to the reopening of the bridge. However, many at the protest camp have been uncooperative.
Wednesday marked the third consecutive night of provocative protest activity. Twenty-one people were arrested. From Monday through Tuesday night, an additional 14 people were arrested near the drill site and on the bridge, making the week one of the most contentious of the new year.
FORT YATES — The Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council unanimously voted to support the district of Cannon Ball in asking all Dakota Access Pipeline protesters to leave the area and canceling plans for a nearby winter camp.
“All the individuals at all the camps in and around Cannon Ball need to leave the district,” residents wrote in a 10-point resolution passed during an executive session of a district meeting Wednesday night. “The building of an alternative site for the camp(s) within the Cannon Ball District is not needed or wanted. If there is to be any kind of a ‘site’ for the commemoration of this historic event that took place with all the tribes, the people of Standing Rock need to vote on where, what and cost before any ‘shanty town is built.'”
The resolution, approved by the full council Friday, applies to all of the protest camps in the area: Oceti Sakowin, Rosebud and Sacred Stone.
The majority of those from the camps who spoke said they respected the council’s decision and shook hands with them.