Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Trump signs orders reviving two controversial pipelines


Steven Mufson and Juliet Eiperin report for the Washington Post:
President Trump signed executive orders Tuesday clearing the way for the controversial Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines to move forward, another step in Trump’s effort to dismantle former President Obama’s environmental legacy.
He also signed an executive order to expedite environmental reviews of other infrastructure projects, lamenting the existing “incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible permitting process.”
“The regulatory process in this country has become a tangled up mess,” he said.
It remained unclear how Trump’s order would restart the pipeline projects or expedite environmental reviews. Many of those reviews are statutory and the legislation that created them cannot be swept aside by an executive order.  The White House did not immediately release texts of the orders.
Trump said that both pipeline projects would be subject to renegotiation. In an Oval Office signing before reporters, the president said he would want any new projects to make use of American steel.
“I am very insistent that if we’re going to build pipelines in the United States, the pipe should be made in the United States,” he said.
The orders will have an immediate impact in North Dakota, where the pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners wants to complete the final 1,100-foot piece of the 1,172-mile pipeline route that runs under Lake Oahe. The pipeline would carry oil from the booming shale oil reserves in North Dakota to refineries and pipeline networks in Illinois.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and other Native American groups have been protesting the project, which they say would imperil their water supplies and disturb sacred burial and archaeological sites. The Army Corp of Engineers called a halt to the project in December to consider alternative routes.
The executive order from Trump on the Keystone XL pipeline threatens to undo a major decision by President Obama, who said that the project would contribute to climate change because it would carry tar sands crude which is especially greenhouse gas intensive because of the energy it takes to extract the thick crude.
TransCanada, the Calgary-based project owner, has said it would be interested in reviving the pipeline. But it was unclear what Trump’s caution about renegotiation would mean for TransCanada’s plans. Originally, TransCanada had planned to get about 65 percent of the steel pipe from U.S. manufacturers but other supplies from Canada.
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