WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump signed executive orders Tuesday reviving the construction of two controversial oil pipelines, but said the projects would be subject to renegotiation.
Trump gave an amber light to the Keystone XL pipeline — which would carry crude from Canada to US refineries on the Gulf Coast — and an equally controversial pipeline crossing in North Dakota.
But he said both would be constructed subject to renegotiated terms and conditions.
“It is subject to a renegotiation of terms, by us,” he said of the Keystone project. “We are going to renegotiate some of the terms and, if they like, we’ll see if we can get that pipeline built.”
Here are key facts about the projects.
WHAT ARE THEY?
Keystone XL was an expansion of TransCanada’s existing system to funnel oil from Alberta’s tar sands to refineries on the US Gulf Coast.
The portion blocked by the Obama administration was a $5.3 billion proposal to build a 1,179-mile (1,900 kilometer) pipeline from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska.
The Dakota Access Pipeline project stretches over four US states and 1,172 miles. Once completed, the $3.8 billion, 30-inch pipeline would transport crude from the northwestern corners of North Dakota, one of the key centers of oil extracted by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to a distribution center in Illinois.
The Army Corps of Engineers in December blocked the disputed portion of the route near Standing Rock Sioux land, that would have taken it under a river and a lake, and said it would seek an alternative.
The pipeline’s owners denounced the Army’s move, calling it “purely political.”
WHY ARE THEY SO CONTROVERSIAL?
Alberta’s tar sands are considered to have the “dirtiest” oil on the planet. Unlike traditional crude which gushes from a well, tar sand oil must be dug up and essentially melted with steaming hot water before it can be refined. It results in huge lakes of polluted water and the strip-mining of millions of acres of once-pristine boreal forests.
Environmentalists argue tar sand oil contains a harmful and corrosive component — bitumen — which makes pipeline ruptures or leaks more likely and carries greater health and safety risks.
A protest movement involving hundreds of Native American tribes has garnered nationwide support and worldwide attention. Since last April, protesters have camped out in North Dakota to block the pipeline’s route — their numbers at times swelling into the thousands — refusing to leave even when snowstorms covered the area.
A key portion of the pipeline crosses land controlled by the federal government just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation in North Dakota. The area includes land the tribe considers sacred, and that contains sacred objects and burial sites.
The pipeline also would cross the Missouri River and man-made Lake Oahe, the tribe’s source of drinking water. It has raised objections, saying the pipeline could leak and endanger the reservation’s water supply.
Environmentalists also oppose fracking saying it contaminates drinking water sources due to the chemicals injected at high pressure into the shale rock to extract oil and gas. They also say the technique is causing earthquakes.