Big Oil’s billionaire president

Resistance promised as Trump pushes ahead on Dakota Access and Keystone XL

Standing Rock Sioux and allies respond to new executive orders on pipelines
Photo: Joe Brusky

U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly signed an executive order this morning that would allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to push through the territory of the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota. Reaction was swift, with Dakota and Lakota spokespeople, as well as other Native Americans and their allies vowing to resist a project that was a focal point for protest throughout 2016.

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President Trump also reportedly signed an order to revive the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport tar sands oil from Alberta to refineries in the United States. Neither order was immediately released to the press, and so details remain murky, but the bottom line appears to be an unconditional green light for two controversial projects.

The Trudeau government, which is holding cabinet meetings this week in Calgary, welcomed Trump’s orders on Keystone XL.

Opponents of the pipeline and climate campaigners were critical of the Canadian government’s response.

“The position of the Trudeau government demonstrates that our government is not only spineless but also morally bankrupt and squarely in the pocket of Big Oil,” Clayton Thomas-Muller, a long-time Indigenous environmental activist and campaigner with 350 Canada, told Ricochet. “Trudeau’s kowtowing to Trump’s ambitions locks Canada into a dirty energy economy that makes it impossible to achieve commitments made in the Paris accord.”

The orders from the new U.S. administration were reportedly aimed at “expediting” environmental review processes on the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would carry crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to refineries in Illinois. Trump held up to $1 million of stock in Energy Transfer Partners, which owns the pipeline (and recently merged with Sunoco Logistics Partners), and he reportedly only sold his shares in December.

The Standing Rock Sioux have vowed to take further legal action in response to the pipeline approval and issued a statement on social media arguing that Trump’s new executive order “violates the law and tribal treaties.” The various camps in North Dakota that had been formed to oppose the pipeline had recently all been asked to leave within 30 days by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in order to reopen the Backwater Bridge. There is no word yet if this is still the case, nor on whether Trump’s executive order affects the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers intent to proceed with an environmental impact study before permitting DAPL to cross the Missouri River.

Allies of the Standing Rock Sioux also responded with statements condemning the actions of the Trump administration.

“The Indigenous Environmental Network is extremely alarmed with President Donald Trump’s announcement of the two executive orders setting the stage for approving the dirty energy pipeline projects of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline,” said IEN executive director Tom BK Goldtooth in a statement. “These actions by President Trump are insane and extreme, and nothing short of attacks on our ancestral homelands as Indigenous peoples.”

Bernie Sanders, senator for Vermont and former candidate for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, wasted no time blasting Trump’s move on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Today, President Trump ignored the voices of millions and put the short-term profits of the fossil fuel industry ahead of the future of our planet…. At a time when the scientific community is virtually unanimous in telling us that climate change is real, it is caused by human activity and it is already causing devastating problems, we cannot afford to build new oil pipelines that lock us into burning fossil fuels for years to come. I will do everything I can to stop these pipelines and protect our planet for future generations.

Amnesty International called the move by the Trump administration a threat to human rights.

Trump’s pipeline push is bound to meet resistance, especially since both the Dakota Access pipeline and Keystone XL faced opposition from broad coalitions.

“That energy from the women’s march will continue into mobilizations and international solidarity with the water protectors and Standing Rock,” said Thomas-Muller.

In New York City, a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline is already planned for this evening outside the Trump Tower on 5th Avenue.

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