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Trump signs executive orders to move forward with Keystone, Dakota Access Pipelines

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Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and their supporters gather in a circle in the center of camp to hear speakers and singers, at a protest encampment near Cannon Ball, North Dakota where members of the tribe and their supporters have gathered to voice their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), September 3, 2016. Drive on a state highway along the Missouri River, amid the rolling hills and wide prairies of North Dakota, and you'll come across a makeshift camp of Native Americans -- united by a common cause. Members of some 200 tribes have gathered here, many raising tribal flags that flap in the unforgiving wind. Some have been here since April, their numbers fluctuating between hundreds and thousands, in an unprecedented show of joint resistance to the nearly 1,200 mile-long Dakota Access oil pipeline. / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – In a controversial move, President Trump signed several executive orders on Tuesday to advance the Keystone XL pipeline and Dakota Access Pipeline.

The decision to advance the pipelines would cast aside efforts by President Barack Obama’s administration to block construction of the two pipelines, while making good on one of Trump’s campaign promises.

On Tuesday morning, Trump signed two orders that would accelerate the pipeline projects. The other executive orders would expedite environmental reviews for high priority projects.

“The regulatory process in this country has become a tangled up mess,” he said.

The 1,179 mile Keystone pipeline would transport oil across the border from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska. Although Transcanada applied for approval over eight years ago, that application was rejected in 2015.

The proposed Dakota Access Pipeline would transport 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day from North Dakota to Illinois, but was met with protests from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The tribe says the pipeline could disturb sacred historical sites on their reservation and pollute their water.

After months of protests, the pipeline was put on hold last year.

Now, the president’s executive orders could change everything.

Trump said he also wanted to push for a deal that would grant U.S. taxpayers a share of the profits, adding that the terms and conditions of the pipelines will be renegotiated by the United States.

“We are very insistent that if we are going to build pipelines in the United States, the pipes should be built in the United States,” he said.

Many environmentalists are concerned about a potential conflict of interest, saying that Trump once owned stock in Energy Transfer Partners, the company that is building the North Dakota pipeline.  However, his campaign has said that he sold off all individual stock holdings last August.

USA Today reports that Trump has yet to file a financial disclosure report to confirm the sale.

The Oklahoma Oil & Gas Association’s President Chad Warmington released the following statement:

“Here in Oklahoma, we are glad that President Trump is making good on the promises former-President Obama stated during his visit to Cushing, Okla., in 2012. President Trump’s executive orders provide additional confidence here in Oklahoma where we have one of the largest crude oil storage facilities in the world and are in the midst of building the Diamond Pipeline from Cushing to Memphis, Tennessee. This new project is expected to support 1,500 new jobs and provide $11 million per year in property tax revenue for communities along the route. Pipeline construction will also be critical to the new and promising SCOOP and STACK plays in Western Oklahoma. Pipelines are the safest, most environmentally friendly, and most cost-efficient way to transport our nation’s crude oil and offers clean air advantages by reducing the need for flaring. We welcome a new era of certainty, where industry’s efforts to establish stringent safety and environmental standards, most often beyond federal and local requirements, will not be dismissed for the sake of political games.”

Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program, released the following statement:

“Trump’s decision to give the go-ahead for the Dakota Access Pipeline is a slap in the face to Native Americans and a blatant disregard for the rights to their land. By law, they are entitled to water rights and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, not sacrificed for political expediency and profit making. The Trump administration should allow careful environmental impact analysis to be completed with full and meaningful participation of affected tribes.”