President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed executive orders that revived two controversial oil pipeline projects that were rejected by his predecessor.
One of the memorandums signed by Trump indicated that TransCanada could re-file an application to construct the Keystone XL pipeline, while another directed the U.S. Army to conduct an expedited review of the Dakota Access pipeline.
Keystone XL, a 1,179-mile stretch of pipe connecting existing lines from Canadian oil deposits to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, came to symbolize battle in Washington between environmental advocates and industry groups.
President Obama rejected the project in 2015 — seven years after TransCanada first applied — and said that approval would undercut the nation's leadership on climate issues and fail to deliver a sufficient economic boon.
Proponents, however, argued that the project would create thousands of jobs and generate millions in tax revenue for nearby communities. Trump on Tuesday suggested that Keystone would create some 28,000 construction jobs, but analysts suggested that the number of direct jobs created by the project would be closer to 16,000.
“We’ll see if we can get that pipeline built,” Trump said. “A lot of jobs.”
Trump reiterated that although he hopes that the project will move forward, his administration plans to negotiate its terms. He controversially suggested on the campaign trail that the U.S. could take "a piece of the profits" from the project, and he said this week that he wants American steel to be used to build it.
Although some steel for the pipeline was made in the U.S., other portions came from Canada, Italy and India.
TransCanada indicated that it is preparing a new application, while Canadian natural resources minister Jim Carr predicted the decision would lead “to a deepening of the relationship across the border.”
The second executive order, meanwhile, called for the Army to "review and approve" the Dakota Access pipeline "in an expedited manner ... to the extent permitted by law and as warranted.”
The mostly-completed 1,172-mile project would link North Dakota oilfields to Illinois, but pipeline owner Energy Transfer Partners sought an easement from the Army Corps of Engineers to route the pipe under a Missouri River reservoir.
The proposal drew fierce opposition from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which argued that the easement would cut across sacred lands and jeopardize its water supply. Other tribes and activists joined a protracted protest at the site in late 2016 before the Army Corps rejected the application.
Environmentalists slammed the executive orders and vowed to continue to fight against the pipelines.
“Donald Trump has been in office for four days and he’s already proving to be the dangerous threat to our climate we feared he would be," Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.