Sunday, October 17, 2021

Trump revives controversial oil pipeline projects

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US President Donald Trump shows one of the executive orders he signed in the Oval Office at the White House on January 24, 2017 (AFP Photo/NICHOLAS KAMM)

Washington (AFP) – US President Donald Trump on Tuesday revived two blocked oil pipeline projects as he signaled his determination to unpick existing environmental legislation.

Trump gave an amber light to the Keystone XL pipeline — which would carry deposits from Canadian tar sands to US refineries on the Gulf Coast — and an equally controversial pipeline crossing in North Dakota.

Both had been put on hold by president Barack Obama’s administration on environmental grounds.

Since being sworn in on Friday Trump has begun rolling out an orthodox conservative agenda, despite a campaign often out of kilter with Republican party ideology.

He has moved to curb funding for abortions, embraced Israel, frozen government hiring and now sought to unwind environmental legislation.

But he has also bucked orthodoxy and sought to put his nationalist and populist print on policy, especially on the economy and trade.

True to his claim to be a hard-charging dealmaker, Trump said both pipeline projects would only be built subject to renegotiated terms and conditions.

“It is subject to a renegotiation of terms, by us,” Trump said. “We are going to renegotiate some of the terms and, if they like, we’ll see if we can get that pipeline built.”

– Made in USA –

The freshly minted president indicated that one possible focus could be who makes the actual piping.

In a separate executive order issued Tuesday, Trump decreed that pipes should be American made — echoing his “America First” doctrine.

“I am very insistent that if we are going to build pipelines in the United States the pipes should be made in the United States,” Trump said.

“We want to build the pipe, put a lot of steel workers back to work.”

Most, although not all, oil pipelines buried underground and made of carbon steel.

Obama had rejected a permit from Calgary-based firm TransCanada to build the 1,179-mile (1,900 kilometer) Alberta-Nebraska section of the project.

Environmentalists have assailed the project, arguing that the Alberta deposits produce some of the “dirtiest” crude in the world.

The Canadian government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has cautiously supported the plan, seeing it as a means of boosting business.

But Canada’s liberal leader has also helped wage the international charge against climate change.

Ahead of Trump’s announcement, natural resources minister James Carr said the move would be “very positive for Canada,” creating 4,500 construction jobs.

“We believe that it’s a good project for both Canada and the United states and we’re very hopeful.”

– Dakota chill –

The Dakota Access Pipeline is more of a political hot potato in the United States.

Native Americans and their supporters strongly protested against the project, prompting the US Army Corps of engineers — which has approval authority — to nix the plans under the Obama administration.

Thousands had camped in freezing winter temperatures to block the oleoduct’s planned route.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is concerned about potential water pollution, saying the pipeline’s route endangers areas with sacred historic artifacts.

The standoff — which included some 2,000 military veterans who joined the protest — prompted violent clashes with law enforcement as well as sympathetic demonstrations nationwide.

But Trump has supported the 1,172-mile (1,886-kilometer) oil pipeline, which would snake through four US states.

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