President Donald Trump signed executive actions to advance approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines on Tuesday, reversing two Obama-era efforts to curb the controversial projects, CNN reports.
Trump shortened the regulatory process for pipeline construction as well as the environmental-review process. “If we intend to fix our country, our bridges, our roadways, we can’t be in an environmental process for 15 years,” the president said.
Trump intends to begin construction on both pipelines after renegotiations, saying the projects will be massive job-creators – an oft-repeated, but overstated, claim about the pipelines. He did not acknowledge the potential environmental or human impact of the construction.
During his White House tenure, Obama stalled construction on the Keystone XL pipeline for years before finally rejecting the project outright in November 2015. Proposed by the Canadian company TransCanada, the pipeline would carry 800,000 barrels of oil from Canadian oil sands to the Gulf Coast.
The Dakota Access Pipeline, meanwhile, sparked massive protests that peaked last fall over its proximity to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation. In December, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would not grant an easement for the Dakota pipeline and would instead “explore alternate routes.”
Trump’s decision has drawn criticism from environmental activists. According to The New York Times, environmentalist Bill McKibben said the fight to stop both projects would continue: “The last time around, TransCanada was so confident they literally mowed the strip where they planned to build the pipeline, before people power stopped them. People will mobilize again.”