The Concerns Over The Executive Order To Advance With The Pipeline Project

On January 24th, 2017, five executive orders were signed by President Donald Trump in an attempt to speed up the controversial pipeline projects that have been debated in the finals years of former President Barack Obama and former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper. Particularly, the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines will go forward with construction. The two projects were hauled out of the construction process by the Obama administration while Trump stated during his campaign run that approving the oil pipeline projects with be a top priority for American economic interests. President Trump made it clear after signing the executive order that investing in U.S. infrastructure and boosting job opportunities were some of the key campaign promises that will go forward during his first 100 days in office.

House of Representative Speaker Paul Ryan praised the U.S. President and agreed that building the Dakota Access pipeline will sharpen American energy resources and create thousands of jobs, especially for the American steel workers. It was Obama’s fear that oil traveling into the United States from Canada would damage international efforts, as well as a major setback in decreasing carbon emissions from fossil fuels. Obama’s decision to stop production on the Dakota Access pipeline was generated from protests by environmentalist agencies and the Indigenous community in the areas threatened by the pipeline construction. The protests were demonstrating awareness about climate change and the destruction that pipeline productions have on Native American cultural lands. As of January 24th, many activists feel that the executive branch have no regrets about the Indigenous community’s rights to preserve and respect their cultural heritage. Protesters also believe that President Trump missed important steps to complete environmental analysis and to bring about vital conversations with international institutions, such as the United Nations and the International Indian Treaty Council.

Similarly, the Keystone XL pipeline project has been under a multi-year clash between U.S and Canadian interests. Discussions on the Keystone project drew tension in the relationship between Obama and Harper. President Trump states that details on the construction are to be renegotiated. But one thing is for sure, Trump’s desire to have American steel in the pipelines challenges the fact that much of the steel has already been purchased from foreign companies. The Keystone XL project will allow for more jobs to be created in Alberta as more than one-fifth of Canadian oil entering the United States will end up in refineries located on the Gulf of Mexico. Jim Carr, the National Resources Minister of Canada recognizes that greenlighting the project under the new American administration is a sign of faith in Canada’s economic development. However, Nebraskan farmers and Indigenous people in South Dakota have been very vocal on their contrasting views on the pipeline constructions.

The goal for the anti-Keystone movement is to generate a new process to establish an appropriate and cleaner way to advance the country’s economy, as well as adhere to environmental concerns. With this view made clear, the protest movements want to see the continent consider dispossessing of any more fossil-fuel investments. Most notably, the Standing Rock Protest drew awareness to stop construction on the Dakota Access pipeline in order to prevent further disruption of sacred burial sites that bare cultural importance to the Indigenous community. As the Trump administration has made it clear that the government will go ahead with the pipeline constructions, the Standing Rock tribes vowed to take legal action against the President. By taking legal actions against the government, the protesters will come forward in declaring that the new administration is violating the law. In particular, the Indigenous community fears that their treaty rights are not being respected by the participating parties and that the routes of the pipelines are seen as being at risk of contaminating their water.

Any executive action signed by the leader of any nation must consider the perspectives from both sides of the discussion table. Trump has announced that the State Department’s environmental assessment of the pipeline projects is the basis for his decision on the matter. On the other hand, activists fear that the new president did not contemplate the idea to conduct new analysis on the effects the construction may potentially have on their water. Back in 2015, landowners of the pipeline routes warned the State Department to amend the U.S. energy policy as any spillage of crude into the Ogallala Aquifer could pollute the water sources that stretches from South Dakota to Texas. Without any considerations voiced from key activists, people will conclude that the Trump administration are ignoring their concerns, as well as rejecting any sort of compliances that constitutes Indigenous rights.



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Jones, Athena, Diamond, Jeremy, and Krieg Gregory. “Trump advances controversial oil pipelines with executive action.” CNN, January 24, 2017. Accessed January 24, 2017.

Panetta, Alexander. “Trump Gives Green Light to Keystone XL, Dakota Access Pipelines.” The Canadian Press, January 24, 2017. Accessed January 24, 2017.

“Trump Orders on 2 Oil Pipelines Strengthens US Energy – House Speaker.” Sputnik International, January 24, 2017. Accessed January 24, 2017.

“Trump Order to Complete Dakota Pipeline Disregards Native American Rights.” Sputnik International, January 24, 2017. Accessed January 24, 2017.