It is just day two of his presidency, and already Trump is taking a sledgehammer to the Obama legacy: in his latest move reported moments ago by Bloomberg, president Trump intends to sign two executive actions today that would advance construction of the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, putting a spoke, so to say, in the train wheels of Warren Buffett's train-based oil transportation quasi-monopoly.
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The orders would fulfill campaign promises Trump made to approve both pipelines, which face strong opposition from Democrats and environmentalists, but ardent support from the oil industry and the GOP. The White House said Trump plans to sign executive orders at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning, but did not provide more details, nor did it respond to the Bloomberg report.
It’s unclear what exactly the orders would do and whether they would fully approve the pipelines or take some other steps in that direction.
If fully built by developer TransCanada Corp., Keystone would run from Alberta, Canada’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.
Dakota Access has been the subject of internationally recognized 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.
More details from Bloomberg:
Keystone was rejected under former President Barack Obama. Trump’s move on Energy Transfer Partners LP’s 1,172-mile Dakota Access project aims to end a standoff that has stalled the $3.8 billion project since September, when the Obama administration halted work on land near Lake Oahe in North Dakota. Related: Does Trump’s ‘America First’ Tax Plan Benefit Oil & Gas?
The moves, taken on Trump’s fourth full day in office, mark a major departure from the Obama administration’s handling of the controversial oil pipelines. The steps vividly illustrate Trump’s plan to give the oil industry more freedom to expand infrastructure and ease transportation bottlenecks.
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.
Expect an angry reaction from Buffett, which will promptly flow through to funded environmental protest groups, who will double down in their defense of the two pipelines, of which the Dakota Access was the prominent center of media attention in the waning days of Obama's presidency.
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