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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Trump takes action to move forward with Keystone, Dakota Access pipelines

Trump takes action to move forward with Keystone, Dakota Access pipelines
By Timothy Cama - 01-24-17 11:50 AM EST

President Trump on Tuesday signed a pair of executive actions to move forward on the federal government's permitting process for the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

In an Oval Office ceremony with several of his aides looking on, Trump said the actions would create new jobs in the United States, and that the pipelines would be built with U.S. steel and U.S. labor.

"A lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs. Great construction jobs," Trump said.

The actions were two of five total executive actions signed by Trump on Tuesday.

They are a sharp turn from the Obama administration's policies, as the former president had rejected the Keystone pipeline and delayed Dakota Access.

During his campaign, Trump promised to prioritize the approval process for both pipelines.

Tuesday's actions will not force the approval of either project, and Trump said he wanted to renegotiate terms with the pipelines' developers.

The White House has not yet released the text of the executive actions, so their exact wording and operation remain unclear.

Both pipelines will be "subject to terms and conditions to be negotiated by us," Trump said.

Trump declined to answer a reporter who asked what he had to say about the months-long, ongoing protests against Dakota Access near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. The tribe says the pipeline's construction under Lake Oahe threatens their drinking supplies and cultural sites.

The oil industry hailed the actions as a sharp turnaround for the federal government.

"We are pleased to see the new direction being taken by this administration to recognize the importance of our nation's energy infrastructure by restoring the rule of law in the permitting process that's critical to pipelines and other infrastructure projects," American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard said in a statement.

"Critical energy infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipelines will help deliver energy to American consumers and businesses safely and efficiently," he continued.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said it was "about time" that the projects moved forward.

"The unfortunate reality is that these important infrastructure projects were used by special interests to advance their radical anti-energy agenda and were therefore needlessly halted by the last administration-to the detriment of America's national interest," he said in a statement.

Environmentalists slammed the moves as major threats to clean air, clean water and the climate.

"No amount of 'alternative facts' can change the reality that these dirty and dangerous pipelines are a bad deal for clean air, safe drinking water and the communities living along the routes," said Tiernan Sittenfeld, the top lobbyist at the League of Conservation Voters.

The other three actions signed by Trump on Tuesday would encourage the use of United States-made steel in pipelines, expedite permitting for manufacturing projects and expedite environmental reviews for infrastructure projects.

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