(KMSP) - President Donald Trump signaled his intent to allow both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines to move forward as he signed a series of executive orders relating to energy and infrastructure.
“We're going to renegotiate some of the terms and if they like, we're going to see if we can get that pipeline built,” said President Trump, referring to the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The Obama Administration blocked construction of the Keystone pipeline in 2015. The executive order President Trump signed invites TransCanada to resubmit an application for a permit that would allow the project to resume.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is more than 90 percent completed. Construction of the last piece - a segment that would go under the Missouri River - is on hold.
The Army Corps of Engineers under the Obama Administration ordered an additional environmental review in December, after months of protests led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and environmental groups.
“That can't be reversed by an executive order,” said Alexandra Klass, Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the University of Minnesota Law School. “What the executive order does is direct the new head or soon to be head of the Army Corps of Engineers to move very quickly to grant all necessary permits and easements.”
Klass said if the permits are granted, that decision could be appealed in court.
“It's not enough for the agency to say, 'there's a new president, there's a new presidential administration and we've changed our mind,'” Klass said. “They have to provide more than that. The question is how much more.”
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe indicated Tuesday that the issue may indeed end up in court.
“President Trump is legally required to honor our treaty rights and provide a fair and reasonable pipeline process,” said Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “Americans know this pipeline was unfairly rerouted towards our nation and without our consent. The existing pipeline route risks infringing on our treaty rights, contaminating our water and the water of 17 million Americans downstream.”
Other groups welcomed the executive orders from the President, contending an emphasis on energy and infrastructure projects means more jobs.
“What it will mean for us in North Dakota is there’s quite a few other projects that are on hold as they wait for Dakota Access, connector pipelines, gathering lines that’s going to be possible to do once that’s done,” said Kevin Pranis, marketing director for the Laborers Union of Minnesota and North Dakota.
Pranis said the Dakota Access Pipeline is the safest in North Dakota. He said a few dozen members are standing by waiting to complete work on the project, if it resumes.