President Donald Trump has approved the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline, two controversial projects that inspired widespread opposition during Barack Obama’s presidency.
The Keystone XL pipeline was originally proposed by the TransCanada Corporation in 2008. It was designed to extend the Keystone pipeline that currently runs from Alberta to Illinois and Texas.
According to environmental organization 350.org, Keystone XL would dramatically increase the odds of catastrophic climate change:
“The total carbon pollution impacts of Keystone XL are the equivalent of putting 51 million cars on the road when considering the total emissions of tar sands and refining processes.”
The fight against the Keystone XL galvanized people to march in the biggest climate change protest march in history.
Market forces also played against the pipeline. A glut in the world’s oil supply led to falling oil prices beginning in 2014. In 2008, oil was trading at over $150 per barrel. But by Nov. 2015, prices had fallen to less than $50 per barrel.
“The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy.”
Environmentalists who led the fight to kill the Keystone XL pipeline are now gearing up for round two. Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, said:
“More people sent comments against Dakota Access and Keystone XL to the government than any project in history. The world’s climate scientists and its Nobel laureates explained over and over why it was unwise and immoral.
In one of his first actions as president, Donald Trump ignores all that in his eagerness to serve the oil industry.”
Referring to the Keystone XL pipeline today, Trump made no mention of the threat is poses to the global climate. He focused instead on its potential economic impact, saying:
“We’ll see if we can get the pipeline built. A lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs.”
But a previous government analysis found that the pipeline would directly create just 3,900 jobs if it took one year to construct, or just 1,950 jobs if it took two years to construct.
Additionally, the pipeline could indirectly create 42,000 jobs for food services, construction camps, concrete suppliers, and related industries, but only over the course of its one or two-year construction cycle. But according to 350.org:
“Only 10% of the created jobs would be filled by local people living in communities along the route.”
And the pipeline would provide just 50 permanent jobs once construction was complete.
Trump buttressed his support for the Dakota Access Pipeline, likewise, on its economic benefits. In December, North Dakota’s Republican Senator John Hoeven met with Trump’s transition team to discuss getting the pipeline approved. After the meeting, he said:
“It is important to know that the new administration will work to help us grow and diversify our energy economy and build the energy infrastructure necessary to move it from where it is produced to where it is needed.”
The Army Corps of Engineers approved the Dakota Access pipeline in April 2016 despite opposition from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of the Interior. The federal agencies were concerned that the pipeline had not had a more robust environmental impact study and that the Standing Rock Sioux – the tribe whose reservation lies near the proposed pipeline route – had not been properly consulted.
In December, the Army Corps of Engineers finally announced it would not allow the pipeline to pass beneath Lake Oahe, a large reservoir connected to the Missouri River that provides drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux .
Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind Dakota Access, was set to fight the decision in court in February. Trump’s executive action today only serves to guarantee an even more brutal legal battle.
Some have suggested that Trump’s enthusiasm for the pipeline stems from the fact that he owns stock in the project. In November, a spokesperson said Trump had sold all stock in the companies involved in its construction. But as USA Today pointed out today, Trump has not yet filed a financial disclosure form to confirm the sale.
Featured image via YouTube video