White House Pipeline Push a War on Treaty Rights, Climate

Hundreds of tribes and tens of thousands of non-native allies from around the world stand against Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline. Image: Greg Harman

Trump claims Keystone XL represents 28,000 jobs, multiplying most likely impact by 10 times, in latest ‘alternative fact’ peddled to American people

President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed executive orders advancing the controversial Keystone XL (KXL) and Dakota Access (DAPL) pipelines, prompting cries of outrage and vows of resistance from the Indigenous activists, climate campaigners, and countless others who have voiced opposition to these projects.

The Associated Press confirmed the orders had been signed after earlier reports citing anonymous officials indicated they were in the works.

Many environmental groups who fiercely fought against both projects were quick to condemn the move, declaring, as did, “We have no alternative but to resist.” co-founder Bill McKibben issued a statement declaring the moment “a dark day for reason.”

As has become a pattern with Trump, the president exaggerated the jobs impact of the Keystone XL pipeline, a proposed 1,179-mile pipeline that would carry extremely toxic tarsands from Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

“We’ll see if we can get that pipeline built,” Trump was quoted by Mashable as telling reporters in the Oval Office today. “A lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs, great construction jobs.”

However, Mashable reports that the U.S. State Department has put that figure at “about 3,900 ‘average annual’ jobs over one year of construction, or 1,950 jobs each year if the pipeline takes two years to build.

But even two dozen jobs is being generous to the Keystone.

“Previous assessments of the pipeline said that really the permanent jobs created are really a dozen or two dozen jobs,” Reuters’s reporter Valerie Volcovici told PBS Newshour on Tuesday.

“The numbers are always very much contested when you compare the permanent jobs with the temporary jobs.”

While the Keystone was beat back by a coalition of Native Americans, ranchers, farmers, and climate activists, the Dakota Access stands precariously at the threshold of drilling beneath the Standing Rock Sioux’s main drinking water supply, Lake Oahe.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has ordered the pipeline’s halt late last year and in December denied that drilling permit pending a full environmental impact review.

“More people sent comments against Dakota Access and Keystone XL to the government than any project in history. The world’s climate scientists and its Nobel laureates explained over and over why it was unwise and immoral,” McKibben said. “In one of his first actions as president, Donald Trump ignores all that in his eagerness to serve the oil industry. It’s a dark day for reason, but we will continue the fight.”

“Trump clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing,” agreed executive director May Boeve. “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.”

“This is not a done deal,” McKibben added. “People will mobilize again.”

At Earthjustice, which provides legal representation for the Standing Rock Sioux Nation’s ongoing resistance to the Dakota Access line, has also strongly objected to the action.

“We are shocked and dismayed by today’s news because it puts water for millions at risk,” said Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen. “This move is legally questionable, at best. And based on what we know about Trump’s financial dealings  in the Dakota Access pipeline, it raises serious ethical concerns. In the case of the Dakota Access pipeline, Trump’s actions are an affront to the Tribe and its Treaty rights especially since once again the tribes were not consulted before this action was taken.

CREDO Action deputy political director Josh Nelson also noted that “fierce grassroots activism has stopped these pipelines over and over again,” while David Turnbull, campaigns director at Oil Change International declared the pipelines “will never be completed.”

“Both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines will never be completed, no matter what President Trump and his oil-soaked cabinet try to do,” Turnbull said. “Trump’s first days in office saw massive opposition, marking the beginning of four years of resistance to his dangerous policies. We stopped Keystone XL and Dakota Access before and we’ll do it again. These are fights Trump and his bullies won’t win.”

As Greenpeace executive director Annie Leonard said, “A powerful alliance of Indigenous communities, ranchers, farmers, and climate activists stopped the Keystone and the Dakota Access pipelines the first time around, and the same alliances will come together to stop them again if Trump tries to raise them from the dead.”

“We all saw the incredible strength and courage of the water protectors at Standing Rock,” Leonard said, “and the people around the world who stood with them in solidarity. We’ll stand with them again if Trump tries to bring the Dakota Access Pipeline, or any other fossil fuel infrastructure project, back to life.”

“Instead of pushing bogus claims about the potential of pipelines to create jobs,” she continued, “Trump should focus his efforts on the clean energy sector where America’s future lives…Renewable energy is not only the future, but the only just economy for today. Keystone, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and fossil fuel infrastructure projects like them will only make billionaires richer and make the rest of us suffer.”

Leonard concluded with the promise, “We will resist this with all of our power and we will continue to build the future the world wants to see.”


Lauren McCauley/ Common Dreams with additional reporting by Deceleration. See original report.