United States President Signs Executive Order Paving Way for Oil Pipelines

United States President Signs Executive Order Paving Way for Oil Pipelines

Days after being sworn into office, the new United States president signed an executive order to revive the previously halted Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

The Keystone XL pipeline was originally the source of a seven-year legal battle between landowners in Nebraska and the multi-billion dollar Canadian oil company. The landowners questioned whether this foreign for-profit company could use eminent domain laws to seize their property in order to more easily transport a product that would be then shipped overseas to China. Former President Barack Obama originally rejected the request back in 2015, stating at the time that:

“America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change. And, frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership.”

The Dakota Access Pipeline was a major source of news throughout the end of 2016 and into 2017 after the Standing Rock Sioux challenged its construction in court, stating that it would endanger the region’s water supply, would violate a number of federal laws and threaten ancient sacred sites. In addition, documents surfaced that showed the pipeline’s original route crossed the Missouri River north of Bismarck, ND. That route was rejected after the United States Army Corps of Engineers determined that its proximity to the river threatened the water supply. Following months of protests, the Department of the Army announced in December of 2016 that they would look for alternative routes to build the pipeline.

Landowners in Nebraska are committed to protecting their land from the Keystone XL Pipeline.

With this new executive order in place, TransCanada Corp announced that they will be resubmitting an application for a permit to build their previously rejected pipeline, and Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline is expected to pursue similar actions. Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock tribe released a statement on Tuesday, January 24 in response to the order:

"Americans know this pipeline was unfairly rerouted towards our nation and without our consent. The existing pipeline route risks infringing on our treaty rights, contaminating our water and the water of 17 million Americans downstream"

Brian Jorde, an attorney at the Domina Law Group, commented on the president’s order:

“Despite President Trump’s Executive Order related to the Keystone XL Pipeline, it changes nothing at all in the State of Nebraska. State law exclusively governs, the route of the pipeline within Nebraska’s boarders and to that end if the pipeline is even able to pass through Nebraska. TransCanada has told us that it intends, if and when they would resubmit an Application for Presidential Permit, that they will apply to the state Public Service Commission (PSC) for route review and approval. This process will likely take between 8 to 12 months. We will intervene on behalf of our over 100 landowner clients and submit all necessary evidence to support and advance our clients positions. No further condemnation efforts by TransCanada could take place within Nebraska against Nebraska landowners until and if the PSC process is completed.”

These oil companies have repeatedly insisted that their pipelines will be safe and that there is no cause for concern. However, one day before the executive order was signed in the United States, the Canadian government announced that an oil pipeline in Saskatchewan has leaked nearly 53,000 gallons of oil on First Nations lands. It is still not clear what caused the leak and which company is responsible for the pipeline. This spill comes a mere seven months after a separate pipeline, operated by Husky Energy Inc., leaked approximately 60,000 gallons of oil into a major river in Saskatchewan and contaminated the drinking supply for two cities.

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