Trump signs executive order to advance Keystone XL, Dakota Access pipelines, Sioux will fight

Published: Jan. 24, 2017 at 9:29 AM CST
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The Associated Press has confirmed that President Donald Trump signed executive actions to advance the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.

The Army decided last year to explore alternate routes for the Dakota Access pipeline after the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its supporters said the pipeline threatened drinking water and Native American cultural sites. The pipeline is to carry North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois.

Former President Barack Obama killed the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in late 2015, declaring it would have undercut U.S. efforts to clinch a global climate change deal. The pipeline would run from Canada to U.S. refineries in the Gulf Coast. The U.S. government needed to approve the pipeline because it crossed U.S. border.

Jane Kleeb, President of Bold Alliance, led the fight to stop the Keystone XL pipeline's path through Nebraska.

Kleeb said in a statement, “Nebraska farmers and ranchers need a President standing up for property rights and our clean water to produce American food. Foreign tarsands pipelines headed to the export market have no place in the Heartland. There is no application for Keystone XL and there never has been an approved route in Nebraska. The President should focus on American energy independence rather than taking land away from farmers using eminent domain for private gain."

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts released the following statement:

“Keystone XL will create good-paying jobs for Nebraska workers and bring property tax relief to counties along the route. Today’s decision represents years of extensive environmental reviews that confirm Keystone XL complies with federal safety and environmental standards. With the federal approval process complete, state regulators must now work through the process in Nebraska to conduct their own thorough consideration of the project.”

An attorney for the Native American tribe that started the movement against the Dakota Access oil pipeline says it will continue its fight in court.

The Standing Rock Sioux is challenging federal permits at more than 200 water crossings along the pipeline's route, with the primary fight focused on a reservoir near the tribe's reservation in southern North Dakota.

Pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners wants to route the pipeline under the Missouri River reservoir, but the Army Corps of Engineers has yet to approve it. That's the only large chunk of construction left.

President Donald Trump issued an executive action Tuesday advancing construction of the pipeline. Tribal attorney Jan (yahn) Hasselman says if Trump's action leads to approval of the lake-crossing, the tribe's fight in court will continue but "the context will shift."

Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault (AR'-sham-boh) says the pipeline was unfairly rerouted toward the Standing Rock reservation without the tribe's consent. He says the pipeline route "risks infringing on our treaty rights, contaminating our water and the water of 17 million Americans downstream."