Trump signs orders to resume Keystone and Dakota Access pipeline construction


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Environmental and Native American rights supporters were both dealt blows today with the announcement that Donald Trump has signed executive orders to resume construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines.  

The move comes at an especially critical time in the case of the Dakota Access pipeline, where Standing Rock protests culminated in the Army Corps of Engineers calling a halt to pipeline construction, pending an environmental impact review of risks posed to the nearby Sioux Reservation's water supply.

While the new president's reversal of Obama administration policies is not surprising, what happens next is not entirely clear. This excerpt from a December Sierra Club FAQ sheds some light on a few of the possibilities:
Can the incoming administration reverse the Corps’ decision?

The incoming administration may very well try to reverse the EIS decision, but that may not be a simple feat. Agency decisions must be based on sound reasoning and well-supported by the facts. The Corps decided that an EIS is warranted after months of careful consideration. It set forth the legal basis and reasoning for the decision in a memorandum from Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, and the decision to prepare an EIS is fully supported by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its implementing regulations.
If a Trump administration were to reverse course on a decision like this, it too would have to be accompanied by sound reasoning that makes a rational connection between the facts found and the decision made. Any hasty or arbitrary decision would be legally vulnerable and subject to further litigation. Of course, that’s not to say the incoming administration won’t rush a decision.
Another scenario would be for Congress to approve the final easement and deem it compliant with all environmental laws, either through an appropriations rider, a stand-alone bill, or some other mechanism that garners enough support from the House and Senate.
For further information on the Dakota Access Pipeline and the controversies surrounding it, see the following Indy feature stories:

Occupy America: Activism before and after Standing Rock

Water Warriors: Indigenous locals travel to Standing Rock to join pipeline resistance

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