Trump Signs Orders Advancing Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines

In this Nov. 3, 2015, photo, the Keystone Steele City pumping station, to which the planned Keystone XL pipeline would connect, is seen in Steele City, Nebraska. (Image credit: AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

President Donald Trump signed executive orders today (Jan. 24) to expedite completion of the stalled Keystone XL (KXL) and Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) construction projects.

Trump said that forthcoming work on DAPL would be "subject to terms and conditions negotiated by us" and that "we are going to renegotiate some of the terms" for Keystone XL, Reuters reported.

The orders were signed before reporters in the Oval Office, and it is as yet uncertain how soon the projects will resume. [Top 10 Worst Oil Spills]

DAPL, which would travel 1,172 miles (1,886 kilometers) through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois, and transport 470,000 to 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day, was halted in December 2016, when the Department of the Army announced that it was denying approval for an easement that would direct the pipeline under North Dakota's Lake Oahe. The easement's proposed location — 0.5 miles (0.8 km) from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation — meant that pipeline leaks or ruptures could threaten the reservation's water supply, and army officials agreed that further investigation was required to assess DAPL's environmental impact.

"It's clear that there's more work to do," Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army's assistant secretary for civil works, said in a statement. "The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing."

The KXL project, an $8 billion pipeline that would extend 1,179 miles (1,897 km) from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast, and transport about 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day, was blocked by then-President Barack Obama in 2015. Obama explained that KXL would not significantly contribute to the U.S. economy and that installing it would bolster reliance on fossil fuels, weakening progress against climate change.

In another executive action issued today, Trump decreed that American steel would be used to build the pipelines, an initiative that he promised would create thousands of jobs for steelworkers.

Trump told reporters that the KXL project alone would generate "28,000 jobs, great construction jobs," Reuters reported.

However, KXL labor requirements were described as "relatively minor" in a 2013 assessment by the State Department. According to the report, the KXL project would generate only 35 permanent jobs and 15 temporary jobs, "primarily for routine inspections, maintenance and repairs," and that the socioeconomic impact would be "negligible."

Original article on Live Science.

Mindy Weisberger
Live Science Contributor

Mindy Weisberger is an editor at Scholastic and a former Live Science channel editor and senior writer. She has reported on general science, covering climate change, paleontology, biology, and space. Mindy studied film at Columbia University; prior to Live Science she produced, wrote and directed media for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Her videos about dinosaurs, astrophysics, biodiversity and evolution appear in museums and science centers worldwide, earning awards such as the CINE Golden Eagle and the Communicator Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in Scientific American, The Washington Post and How It Works Magazine.