UPDATE: The Trump administration has approved plans to move forward with the Dakota Access Pipeline, according to a Tuesday court filing by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The filing serves as a crucial turning point, paving the way for the Army Corps to overcome the most recent obstacle to stall the pipeline's progress. The move satisfies one of the president's campaign pledges to fast-track infrastructure projects, but will likely serve as the springboard for continued protests over the pipeline's construction, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- Among his first actions in office, President Donald Trump gave the go-ahead for two hotly contested pipeline projects and loosened the approval process for certain infrastructure projects, according to USA Today.
- Trump signed presidential memoranda on Tuesday intended to resuscitate the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, both stalled by debate over how they will impact water and other environmental elements along their paths and during construction.
- The president also signed an executive order directing agencies to streamline the environmental and regulatory review processes for "high priority infrastructure projects."
The memorandum for the Keystone project called on TransCanada to "promptly resubmit its application" on the proposed pipeline that would run from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska. As for the Dakota Access line — which has been the target of intense protests by Native American communities — he directed the secretary of the Army to quickly "review and approve" the project.
Brian Turmail, senior executive director of public affairs for the Associated General Contractors of America, told Construction Dive, "[Trump's] executive order regarding the Keystone and Dakota Access pipeline hopefully foreshadows his broader efforts to rebuild our country."
Trump also issued a third note to the Commerce Department directing the secretary to come up with a workable plan to require American-made steel on new, expanded or retrofitted pipelines built in the U.S.
Former President Barack Obama reviewed the XL pipeline project for seven years during his administration and finally decided it was a nonstarter, maintaining that the economic payoff was not enough to offset the environmental risks. Trump said the XL pipeline is now open to renegotiation, but it's not yet clear if those discussions will address environmental safeguards.
Trump threw out a figure of 28,000 XL pipeline jobs hanging in the balance. In contrast, a previous State Department analysis determined that the project would generate 42,000 temporary jobs, 3,900 of those construction-related. However, the study found that only 35 positions would be permanent.
The industry will likely welcome the rollback of project-approval regulations. Earlier this month, the AGC and other construction industry organizations petitioned Trump to repeal or revise several regulations that directly impact the construction industry, including federal rules dealing with project labor agreements.