Trump Green Lights Keystone XL and Dakota Access Oil Pipelines

Published January 24, 2017
Updated January 9, 2018
Published January 24, 2017
Updated January 9, 2018

With a few pen strokes, Donald Trump has signaled that the controversial projects will resume.


Ron Sachs – Pool/Getty ImagesU.S. President Donald Trump signs executive orders in the Oval Office.

President Donald Trump officially approved the continued construction of both the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline with two executive orders signed Tuesday.

The Obama administration had halted both projects due to environmental concerns and, in the case of the Dakota Access project, because of massive protests from Native American communities and activists.

The Keystone project is once again on the road to becoming a 1,179-mile pipeline bringing 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

Though studies have shown that the Keystone project would “not have a momentous impact on jobs or the environment,” it became an important and divisive symbol of whether America would prioritize energy production or the environment.

By rejecting the Keystone construction permit in 2015 and then blocking the Dakota Access pipeline’s completion in December, Obama suggested the latter. Now, Trump is shifting gears.

This was also apparent in another executive measure, also signed Tuesday, that will expedite the environmental impact review process for infrastructure projects.

“I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist, I believe in it,” Trump, who has changed his position multiple times regarding man-made climate change, said while hosting a group of the country’s leading automakers. “But it’s gotten out of control.”

“You’re going to find this to be from being very inhospitable to extremely hospitable,” he assured them regarding the process of maintaining permits.

While signing the order, Trump stipulated that both deals would be subject to renegotiation (primarily regarding the use of American steel for any new construction). So it remains unclear how and when the projects will restart.


Andrew Burton/Getty ImagesMiles of unused pipe, prepared for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Next, read about beer-powered cars and the future of energy. Or learn about Native American genocide and its legacy of oppression today.

Annie Garau
Annie is a NYC-based writer.