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Hundreds gather near Trump Tower to protest pipeline executive orders

Hundreds of New Yorkers joined Actress Jane Fonda and Film Director Josh Fox in the evening of Jan. 24 at Columbus Circle in New York for a rally and march to Trump Tower in a massive peaceful protest after Trump signed orders to advance Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines. (Getty Images/Erik McGregor)

NEW YORK — Hundreds of people gathered in Manhattan on a cold, rainy Tuesday evening to protest President Donald Trump's executive orders to restart the Keystone and Dakota Access oil pipelines.

Both pipelines were stalled under the Obama administration due to concerns from environmental groups that the projects could contaminate lands and contribute to climate change.

Native American groups have been at the center of the longstanding protests against the Dakota Access pipeline as it would run through their land and could contaminate their drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North and South Dakota.

"We’re going to put a lot of workers, a lot of skilled workers, back to work. We will build our own pipeline, we will build our own pipes, like we used to in the old days," Trump said Tuesday.

While some of the terms of the projects remains unclear — as the Washington Post reported, both pipelines are subject to renegotiation — activists took to the New York streets Tuesday night to protest the move.

"If all lives matter, then native lives matter," protesters shouted near Trump International Hotel and Tower in Manhattan.

"City by city, block by block, we stand with Standing Rock," they also chanted.

Kathryn Klos, 26, told TheBlaze that she marched as she believes the Trump administration is "money over people, money over climate, money over water, money over the fate of our future children."

"I can't just sit and do nothing in light of everything that stands to be destroyed," she said.

Actress Jane Fonda joined Tuesday's demonstrations and rallied the protesters, at one point referring to Trump as the "predator in chief," according to the New York Daily News.

"He does this illegally because he has not gotten consent from the tribes through whose countries this goes," Fonda said.

Protesters told TheBlaze that they received an email about the event at about 1 p.m. Tuesday. A Facebook event page for the protest says it was hosted by DeFund DAPL, The People For Bernie Sanders, Our Revolution, Grassroots Action New York and others.

The event page also listed environmental activist Josh Fox as a host.

"It is clear Donald Trump is willing to prioritize the fossil fuel industry over the health and well-being of our planet. If these pipelines are built, it will have devastating effects on the climate, our land and our water," Our Revolution said in an email to supporters Tuesday afternoon. "Additionally, it goes against the will of millions of people who stood up to oppose these pipelines in the first place."

The email encouraged supporters to add their names to an online petition.

"Now that Trump has signed executive orders to move forward with construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, it's on us to hold him accountable and mobilize to oppose the construction of these pipelines," the petition states.

More than 2,400 people said they were attending the event by 7 p.m., according to the Facebook page. Additionally, more than 8,400 people said they were interested in the event.

Following the announcement of the executive order, former Democratic presidential candidate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) said Trump "ignored the voices of millions and put the short-term profits of the fossil fuel industry ahead of the future of our planet."

"At a time when the scientific community is virtually unanimous in telling us that climate change is real, it is caused by human activity and it is already causing devastating problems, we cannot afford to build new oil pipelines that lock us into burning fossil fuels for years to come," Sanders said. "I will do everything I can to stop these pipelines and protect our planet for future generations."

During his campaign, Trump promised to have the controversial pipelines built, and he wasted no time in moving the ball forward on that promise. He also signed an executive order Tuesday in which declares all oil pipelines made in the U.S. will be built with U.S.-made materials.

But protesters Tuesday are concerned about more than just the environmental aspects of the projects — they decried the financial connections Trump and some in his administration have to the pipelines.

As CBS reported in November, Trump's 2016 federal disclosure forms showed that he holds stock in the company building the Dakota Access pipeline. While his stock in Energy Transfer Partners dissipated in just a year — he owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in 2016 compared to between $500,000 and $1 million in 2015 — he also owned stock in Phillips 66, which has a share of the Dakota Access.

Energy Secretary-designate Rick Perry also has connections to the Dakota Access pipeline. Perry, a former Texas governor, was on the boards of two energy companies developing the pipelines until he stepped down on Dec. 31.

But environmental advocacy groups and activists promise to not let the pipelines get built without putting up a fight.

Grassroots climate organization 350.org's executive director, May Boeve, said in a statement Tuesday:

Trump clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing. Indigenous peoples, landowners, and climate activists did everything in our power to stop Keystone XL and Dakota Access, and we’ll do it again. These orders will only reignite the widespread grassroots opposition to these pipelines and other dirty energy projects. Trump is about to meet the fossil fuel resistance head on.

In a tweet Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union decried Trump's decision as a "slap in the face to Native Americans."

And Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU's Human Rights program, said:

Trump’s decision to give the go-ahead for the Dakota Access Pipeline is a slap in the face to Native Americans and a blatant disregard for the rights to their land. By law, they are entitled to water rights and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, not sacrificed for political expediency and profit making.  The Trump administration should allow careful environmental impact analysis to be completed with full and meaningful participation of affected tribes.
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