President Trump signed five more executive actions Tuesday in a blitz of executive power meant to speed approvals of high-profile energy projects like the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
In reversing the Obama administration policy to disapprove the Keystone pipeline, Trump emphasized that the construction isn’t a done deal. “It’s something that subject to a renegotiation of terms by us,” he said. “We’ll see if we can get the pipeline built. A lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs.”
Keystone XL is a proposed 1,179-mile cross-border pipeline from Alberta to Nebraska that became a lightning rod for Obama’s energy policy, with the administration taking seven years to make a decision before ultimately killing it over environmental concerns.
The president also signed a similar order on the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,172-mile pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois that has been the subject of heated protests. Trump once owned stock in Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, although his campaign said he sold off all individual stock holdings last August. Trump has not yet filed a financial disclosure report to confirm the sale.
Then he signed a separate action requiring that the steel used in the pipelines be made in the United States. “Going to put a lot of workers, a lot of steelworkers, back to work,” he said.
But potentially more sweeping are two directives changing the process of approving and regulating future pipeline and infrastructure projects.
“This is about streamlining the incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible, permitting process,” Trump said in an Oval Office signing ceremony that has already become a trademark of his short presidency.
“If it’s a no, we’ll give them a quick no, and if it’s a yes, it’s like ‘Let’s start building,’ ” he said. “The regulatory process in this country has become a tangled up mess, and very unfair to people.”
While the text of the directives wasn’t immediately available, so it wasn’t immediately clear how far the rollback of Obama’s environmental policy goes. “This is the expediting of environmental reviews and approvals for high-priority infrastructure projects,” Trump said. “We can’t be in an environmental process for 15 years if a bridge is falling down.”
The directives Trump signed Tuesday were a mix of executive orders and presidential memoranda.