Trump advances Keystone, Dakota Access pipelines

President Trump on Tuesday signed orders to advance construction of the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

The orders do not grant the final permits needed for the oil pipelines but will move both projects toward approval, a person familiar with the action said.

The Trump administration began to inform lawmakers starting late Monday that the orders were coming.

The orders fulfill Trump's campaign promise to approve both pipelines, which have staunch support from the oil industry and the GOP but are strongly opposed by Democrats and environmentalists.

ADVERTISEMENT
The White House did not provide more details.

“It certainly confirms his commitment both to the rule of law and to job creation and energy security, which is pretty critical,” said Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), a close Trump ally whose state would contain segments of both pipelines.

Cramer called it a “pretty significant differentiation between the previous administration and this one.”

Former President Obama rejected Keystone in November 2015, citing the need to show international leadership on climate change.

If fully built by developer TransCanada Corp., Keystone would run from Alberta, Canada, which contains a bulk of that nation's oil sands, to the Gulf Coast in Texas, bringing heavy oil sands petroleum to refineries.

Last month, the Obama administration ordered a comprehensive environmental impact statement to be conducted on the Dakota Access pipeline before any decision could be made on building its final section below Lake Oahe in North Dakota.

The pipeline has been the subject of international protests that have fired up environmentalists and indigenous rights activists.

They say that the pipeline threatens the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, and further development of oil infrastructure threatens the climate.

The two projects require different approvals. Keystone needs a presidential permit to build across the Canadian border, while Dakota Access, developed by Energy Transfer Partners, needs an Army Corps of Engineers easement to build under Lake Oahe.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, asked Monday about plans to approve Keystone and Dakota Access, said he was “not going to get in front of the president’s executive actions.”  

But he went on to say that the projects are “areas where we can increase jobs, increase economic growth and tap into America’s energy supply more.”

The planned orders were first reported Tuesday by Bloomberg.

— Updated at 11:34 a.m.