Environmental activists are incensed after President Donald Trump signed a number of executive actions on Tuesday aimed at advancing construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, subject to “renegotiation” by the administration.
The move comes after he repeatedly promised during his campaign to loosen regulations on the oil industry in an effort to create more jobs and expand infrastructure.
“I find it incredibly dangerous,” Wes Clark Jr. told Business Insider. A military veteran and staunch opponent of the Dakota Access pipeline, Clark led a charge to organise the deployment of at least 2,000 veterans to the Standing Rock reservation at the height of Dakota Access protests.
Former President Barack Obama’s administration rejected an application for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in 2012 and vetoed a bill on the pipeline in 2015. The US Army Corps of Engineers turned down a permit for the Dakota Access pipeline in December after protests by the Standing Rock Native American community and its allies.
President Trump’s executive actions reverse the Obama administration’s decision, and they also focus on reducing the regulatory burden on the oil industry and encouraging domestic manufacturing.
“The regulatory process in this country has become a tangled up mess and very unfair to people,” Trump said while signing the executive action. He added that the move would create “great construction jobs” and “put a lot of workers back to work.”
A 2014 State Department report estimated that the Keystone XL pipeline would create 35 permanent jobs in the US after construction is completed.
If construction is resumed on Dakota Access, activists say that it could pose a serious threat to the area’s clean water and sacred burial grounds.
Environmentalists also say that Dakota Access and the Keystone XL pipelines will further damage the environment by creating pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
“Climate change is happening,” Clark said, and Trump wants to harm “the entire human race so a few billionaires can have a few more dollars.”
Clark said veterans and “members of every US community who care about the planet” are planning to organise nationally to stop Trump’s agenda.
“I’d like my children to have full lives, and I’d like my children to be able to have children. That’s not going to happen if these pipelines are built,” he said.
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