Pipelines are not the answer

President Donald Trump shows off his signature on an executive order about the Dakota Access pipeline, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (Evan Vucci/AP)

On Tuesday, President Trump signed executive orders to make it easier for both the Keystone Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline to be constructed. Trump indicated that there still could be renegotiation, but this executive order may allow construction to resume without the full environmental review that was pledged by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. The news of this executive action as one of Trump’s first actions in office is alarming. Months of protesting lead to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers not granting an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline’s crossing and reviewing possible alternative routes and its environmental impact. This action is a part of Trump’s promises to bring jobs and energy independence to the country, but the administration is overlooking possible implications these pipelines have concerning these topics, as well as the will of the people and the health of the environment.  

In order to argue against these executive orders, it is necessary to understand the reasons supporting them in the first place. Throughout his campaign, Trump stressed bringing back jobs to America. An argument for the two pipeline projects is that the construction would create thousands of jobs. However, most of those jobs are not long-term projects. While the pipelines need many workers to build them, not many are needed for long-term upkeep. Another argument utilized to support the Keystone Pipeline is that it would reduce U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil. However, that implies that the majority of the oil transported with the Keystone Pipeline would stay in the United States. But the transportation of this oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast is part of the preparation for it to be exported; in fact, almost 80 percent of oil shipped to the Texas Gulf Coast is exported. Trump’s executive actions and support for these pipelines are not effective ways to pursue his goals of energy independence (or lack of dependence on Middle Eastern countries) and job creation.

President Trump calls himself an environmentalist, but he fails to realize that creating jobs in researching and creating clean energy would aid his other goals while also benefitting the environment. Emphasizing and investing in clean energy would create jobs that would carry on much longer than the timespan of constructing the pipelines. It also would help the United States become energy independent without threatening the environment. This solution is much kinder to the environment and would develop a more sustainable way of living, which clearly contrasts the problems created through utilization of pipelines. Despite claims that pipelines are safe, there have been over 3,300 incidents of leaks or ruptures involving crude oil or liquefied natural gas on U.S. pipelines since 2010. This releases pollutants into our waterways, soil and air. Supporting harmful infrastructure such as pipelines reinforces the oil industry rather than strengthens the clean energy industry that can aid our country in many ways.

President Trump claimed that Jan. 20 would be known as the day “the people became the rulers of this nation again." However, this action not only ignores the thousands of people at Standing Rock who protested the Dakota Access Pipeline and fought for their right to clean water, but it also directly victimizes the Standing Rock Sioux tribe because the pipeline directly runs through their historical sites and burial grounds. The Sioux tribe has previously attempted legal means and has stated that they will once again pursue the justice system to protect their land and historical grounds. People have been making their voices known concerning pipelines for months in protests, articles and legal battles. President Trump’s executive actions directly contradict his statement that the people will once again rule this nation.

These executive actions are not an example of Trump acting on his word, but of directly contradicting it. The construction of these pipelines is not an effective way of addressing job creation or energy independence, and it is not accomplishing the people’s will. For President Trump to follow through on his promises, he must understand this, enable actions to stop the construction and pursue clean energy technology instead.


Alyssa Luis is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus opinion section. She can be reached via email at alyssa.luis@uconn.edu.