Change: Trump to approve Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines

There’s a new energy sheriff in town, pardner. In a sharp contrast to the lengthy, drawn-out process used by Barack Obama to block two new oil pipelines, Donald Trump will sign off on approvals for both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines today, Bloomberg reports:

President Donald Trump intends to take action today to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, according to a person familiar with the matter.

TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone pipeline was rejected under former President Barack Obama and Energy Transfer Partners LP’s $3.8 billion project Dakota Access project was stalled when the Obama administration halted work on in on land near Lake Oahe in North Dakota amid protests by Native American groups.

The moves, taken on Trump’s fourth full day in office, mark illustrate his plan to fulfill his campaign pledge to give the oil industry more freedom to expand infrastructure, create jobs and ease transportation bottlenecks.

Bear in mind that years and years of investigating the Keystone pipeline turned up no rational obstacles to its construction. Adjustments were demanded on certain parts of the route, which were made forthwith. Refineries in Louisiana had hoped to already be converting Alberta sands oil production into usable products, including gasoline, both for use here and abroad. Obama rejected the application in the end because that didn’t suit the nation’s interests — at least according to Obama. It was a sop to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, and Hillary Clinton would have certainly continued the same policy.

Trump, on the other hand, doesn’t need to give sops to the progressives. He needs to establish his credibility from the campaign with action, and if nothing else, Donald Trump has certainly spent the first week of his presidency affirming that he intends to keep his campaign promises. Trump cited the Keystone pipeline often on the campaign trail as an example of Democratic animus toward energy production and job creation, so a reversal wasn’t exactly unexpected — but its speed might have been.

But that’s not the only action the new White House has taken on energy. Trump ordered the EPA to freeze all grant and contract activities pending a review from the top:

The Trump administration has instructed officials at the Environmental Protection Agency to freeze its grants and contracts, a move that could affect everything from state-led climate research to localized efforts to improve air and water quality to environmental justice projects aimed at helping poor communities.

An email went out to employees in the agency’s Office of Acquisition Management within hours of President Trump’s swearing-in on Friday.

“New EPA administration has asked that all contract and grant awards be temporarily suspended, effective immediately,” read the email, which was shared with The Washington Post. “Until we receive further clarification, which we hope to have soon, please construe this to include task orders and work assignments.”

According to its website, each year the EPA awards more than $4 billion in funding for grants and other assistance agreements. For now, it appears, that funding is on hold, casting a cloud of uncertainty over one of the agency’s core functions, as well as over the scientists, state and local officials, universities and Native American tribes that often benefit from the grants.

That’s also a big campaign promise on its way to being fulfilled. Coincidentally — or not — Trump met with American automakers today to emphasize the need for new jobs here in the US:

As our colleague Leah Barkoukis reported at Townhall, Ford CEO Mark Fields also attended Trump’s broader business meeting, and came away impressed:

“Walking out of the meeting today, I know I come out with a lot of confidence that the president is very, very serious in making sure the United States economy is going to be strong and have policies — tax, regulatory or trade — to drive that,” Mark Fields said while he left White House. “That encourages all of us, as CEOs, as we make decisions going forward.”

It’s certainly encouraging to hear that Trump and his administration remain focused on the promises and priorities of the campaign. The Keystone and Dakota Access reversals are a hopeful sign that they intend to follow all the way through to those goals, too.

Update: Er, yes I know that it’s the Dakota Access pipeline, but for some reason typed “Daytona” in the first paragraph. Yikes. I’ve fixed it, and thanks to reader John C for pointing it out.

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