Photo courtesy of Inquisitor.com: Protesters of the pipeline suffered a disheartening blow when Trump recently ordered the construction to continue.
Over the past year, an intense political battle has been waged between Dakota Access, LLC and the Sioux Native American tribe in the Dakotas over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a 1,172 mile oil pipeline that would be used to transport almost two million gallons of oil across the country each day.
Environmental activists and members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe have protested the pipeline’s construction since early 2016, due to concerns regarding the environmental impact of the pipeline and the danger it poses to clean water sources for the Sioux people living around it. Large protests have formed around construction sites, filled with Sioux tribe members and environmental activists alike.
As a result of extensive protests and petitioning, the project was temporarily halted during the final days of the Obama administration, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers releasing a statement that they had “determined that additional discussion and analysis are warranted” before construction could continue.
Despite what seemed like a victory for protesters, a recent executive order by President Donald Trump has revived the Dakota Access Pipeline, along with its predecessor, the Keystone XL Pipeline. The order directs the U.S. State Department to approve “requests for approvals to construct and operate the DAPL,” and asks for this to be done “in an expedited manner.”
The Standing Rock Sioux continues to oppose the pipeline’s construction, and tribe chairman Dave Archambault II asserts, “President Trump is legally required to honor our treaty rights and provide a fair and reasonable pipeline process.” However, President Trump has supported the use of fossil fuels and oil pipelines throughout his campaign, and a resurgence of protests is not likely to influence the Trump administration to change their decision.
This is the first environmental ruling under Trump’s administration that starkly contrasts the climate change-conscious policies of Barack Obama, and represents the new president’s emphasis on the economic aspects of energy use over environmental implications. It is yet to be seen exactly how the U.S. will stand on environmental issues over the next four years, but it is certain that climate change will continue to be a hotly debated topic.
By Caleb Artz