Trump Defies Army Corps of Engineers, Reinstates Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipelines
In addition to the high potential for irreversible ecological disaster, the Dakota Access Pipeline threatens to invade the sacred land of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. For a president seemingly indifferent to others feelings, this most recent order resembles his other damaging executive orders. Signed Tuesday, Trump's order eases the construction process for TransCanada (responsible for building the Keystone XL) and Energy Transfer Partners (responsible for the Dakota Access Pipeline).
The decision to sign this executive order is not without controversy nor is it unintentionally provocative. Trump knew exactly what reaction he would receive from Standing Rock water protectors and humans rights activists. But most important to Trump, he knew how well his base would receive this news. His unnecessary meddling has bolstered national support for the Standing Rock Sioux and may lead many more to join their cause in North Dakota, the same way they came out in full force for the Women's Marches.
Not even a week removed from the largest global demonstrations (to protest the election/inauguration of Donald Trump) in decades, and Trump is working to solidify his base, rather than in the best interest of the country. Signing documents with the force of law, like this executive order, should not be done without thoughtful deliberation. Regardless of his views on the legitimacy of climate science, the legitimacy of pipes leaking, bursting, or rupturing is undeniable.
Recall, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers previously denied Energy Transfers permit to cross under the Missouri River. Trump's executive order may be able to circumvent the Army Corps' decision and suffice for granting the energy company access to pick up construction where they left off. All indications point to a long winter showdown between activists and the Trump administration.
Standing Rock tribe chairman, Dave Archambault II explained his displeasure, "Americans know this pipeline was unfairly rerouted towards our nation and without our consent. The existing pipeline route risks infringing on our treaty rights, contaminating our water and the water of 17 million Americans downstream." If the president wants to pick a fight with the Army Corps of Engineers, he does so at his own peril. But the prudent person would allow this vital arm of the Defense Department to finish gathering evidence before it issues its final ruling.