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Trump signs executive orders restarting two major pipeline projects

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President Donald Trump signs an executive order on the Keystone XL pipeline, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP/Evan Vucci)

In a highly anticipated move, President Donald Trump has officially signed executive orders designed to restart construction of both the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline, according to multiple reports.

Both projects had been stalled under the Obama administration, as environmental activists brought tremendous pressure to bear during an election year, and made support for the oil projects untenable for Democrats. Trump sharply criticized the Obama administration’s handling of both issues on the campaign trail and promised that, if elected, he would press to move both projects forward immediately.

According to Fox News, President Trump issued a statement this morning promising that after the executive orders, the contracts for construction would be open to renegotiation. It was not immediately clear what was meant by this statement.

Work on the Keystone XL pipeline — which was supposed to stretch from Canada to Mexico — has been stalled since November 2015, when the Obama administration issued a highly controversial decision denying proposed pipeline TransCanada the necessary permit to begin construction. Text of Trump’s executive order was not yet available at the time of publication of this article, but it is unclear what action it sets forth with respect to this pipeline, in light of the fact that TransCanada has never renewed their application for a permit after the initial denial by the Obama administration.

The Dakota Access Pipeline, was proposed as an underground pipeline stretching from North Dakota to Illinois, and is currently estimated to be almost 90 percent complete. Bowing to pressure from environmentalists and protesters on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, the United States Army Corps of Engineers denied a critical easement sought by construction company Dakota Access LLC on Dec. 4, 2016, ordering Dakota Access LLC to undertake an environmental impact review and consider alternate routes for the pipeline. Without the easement, work on the pipeline cannot proceed as originally planned.

This piece will be updated when the text of Trump’s executive orders becomes available.

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