[Episcopal News Service, by Mary Frances Schjonberg] While reaction to President Donald Trump’s actions yesterday (24 January) designed to move forward both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines was swift, the immediate impact of his memoranda remained unclear. Nothing in Trump’s memorandum on the Dakota Access Pipeline appears to force approval of the project but would try to speed the US Army Corps of Engineers’ ongoing environmental review process.
A presidential memorandum is somewhat different from a presidential executive order and some observers say it has a lesser impact.
Other observers wondered if Trump’s decision to sign the documents fit what they see as a pattern of Trump and his aides seeking to distract the media from other events happening as the administration gears up, including nomination hearings, ethics inquiries and changes to websites and policies that seem to curtail public input. Also published today was a proclamation that Trump signed soon after becoming president on 20 January, declaring that day to be a “National Day of Patriotic Devotion.”
In the Dakota Access Pipeline memo Trump tells the US Army Corps of Engineers to “review and approve in an expedited manner, to the extent permitted by law and as warranted, and with such conditions as are necessary or appropriate” the company’s request to finish the pipeline. The remaining work would push the pipeline under Lake Oahe on the Missouri River just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation reservation. The proposed crossing is upstream from the tribe’s reservation boundaries, and the tribe has water, treaty fishing and hunting rights in the lake.
- Read Mary Frances Schjonberg’s full in-depth report on the Episcopal News Service website.