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Native American activists and environmentalists say they’ll fight President Donald Trump, who Tuesday signed executive orders which allow the construction of the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access (DAPL) oil pipelines stalled by President Barack Obama in 2015.
“These actions by President Trump are insane and extreme, and nothing short of attacks on our ancestral homelands as indigenous people,” read a statement by the Indigenous Environmental Network. “The executive orders demonstrate that this administration is more than willing to violate federal law that is meant to protect Indigenous rights, human rights, the environment and the overall safety of communities for the benefit of the fossil fuel industry.”
The group says its resistance is stronger than ever before, and it is prepared to “push back” at the administration’s “reckless decision.”
Separately, Earthjustice, the nonprofit environmental law organization that represents the Standing Rock Tribe, called Trump’s action “anti-democratic.”
“This move is legally questionable at best,” said Earthjustice president Donnell “Trip” Van Noppen. “He [Trump] should brace himself to contend with the laws he is flouting, and the millions of Americans who are opposed to these dangerous and destructive projects. We will see his administration in court.”
Conflict of interest questions
He also questioned whether there is a conflict of interest at play.
“Based on what we know about Trump’s financial dealings in the Dakota Access Pipeline, it raises serious ethical concern,” Van Noppen said.
According to Trump’s May 2016 financial disclosure report, he held between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in Energy Transfer Partners — down from $500,000 to $1 million the year before — and between $100,000 and $250,000 in Phillips 66. And, as the Washington Post reported in November, Energy Transfer chief executive Kelcy Warren donated $1 million to the Trump presidential campaign.
Trump has said he supports the pipelines because they benefit Americans, not because of personal financial interest. When he signed the order, he touted the number of jobs that construction of the pipeline would create.
“It’s something that’s 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.”
In addition to an order speeding up construction of the pipelines, Trump signed a second memorandum requiring the secretary of the commerce department to mandate that all steel used in pipelines be American made.
“We’re going to put a lot of … steelworkers back to work,” Trump said as he signed the orders Tuesday. “We’ll build our own pipelines, we will build our own pipes.”