President Trump signed his second executive order, “Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects,” just four days after he took office. The executive order, which aims to expedite the construction of crude oil pipelines, has received backlash from environmental organizations that do not support the Keystone or Dakota Access pipelines.
One of those organizations, Earthjustice, is the nonprofit environmental law firm that represented the Standing Rock tribe in federal court against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.
According to the published document on the Office of the Federal Register’s website, this executive order lists “infrastructure investment” as its primary purpose. After referencing the economic benefits of unnamed infrastructure projects, the order maintains that “it is the policy of the executive branch to streamline and expedite, in a manner consistent with law, environmental reviews and approvals for all infrastructure projects, especially projects that are a high priority for the Nation.”
In the footage obtained by various news outlets during Trump’s signing of the executive order, the President gave brief explanatory comments to the press.
“This is with regard to the construction of the Keystone pipeline, something that’s been in dispute,” said Trump, while signing Executive Order 13766 on Jan. 24. Trump also made reference to the Dakota Access pipeline as he signed.
One of the infrastructure projects recognized as a “high priority” in the executive order are pipelines, alongside airports, bridges, highways and port facilities.
The content of Trump’s executive orders has some Americans concerned. For Executive Order 13766, that concern is related to ongoing environmental protests that have taken place over the past year in response to the Dakota Access pipeline.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has been leading protest and legal action against Dakota Access, LLC since the company’s pipeline construction announcement in Jan. 2016. Native Americans from tribes all over the country, as well as supporters, have participated in the Standing Rock protests.
The majority of the Standing Rock protests have taken place in North Dakota, where the Dakota Access pipeline is projected to be completed. The 1,172-mile pipeline route runs under Lake Oahe and the Missouri River, which is a primary water source for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
Hannah Long, a conservative student at E&H who does not support Trump, has been following the conflict surrounding the pipeline.
“The environmental impact might not be as bad as everyone says it is. For one thing, even if the pipeline doesn’t go in, there’s going to have to be some way to transport that oil, and that alternative could be environmentally destructive as well,” Long said.
The actual document of Executive Order 13766 was published on Jan. 30.
– Orion Rummler