Tuesday, January 24, 2017
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will sign orders Tuesday to advance the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, a pair of projects that were blocked by the Obama administration due in part to environmental concerns.
Trump is to sign the orders Tuesday, according to a person with knowledge of the decision. The move is expected to be cheered by Republicans and some union groups who backed the projects.
Former President Barack Obama stopped the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in late 2015, declaring it would have undercut U.S. efforts to clinch a global climate change deal that was a centerpiece of his environmental legacy. The pipeline would run from Canada to U.S. refineries in the Gulf Coast. The U.S. government needed to approve the pipeline because it crossed the border.
Separately, late last year, the Army Corps of Engineers declined to allow construction of the Dakota Access pipeline under Lake Oahe, saying alternative routes needed to be considered. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its supporters say the project threatens drinking water and Native American sites, though Energy Transfer Partners, the company that wants to build the pipeline, disputes that and says the pipeline will be safe.
The pipeline is to carry North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois.
The person with knowledge of Trump's decisions insisted on anonymity because that person was not authorized to confirm the moves ahead of a formal announcement.
Trump has moved swiftly this week to make good on some of his core campaign pledges he says are aimed at creating jobs and growing the economy. On Monday, he signed a memorandum withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, a proposed accord with 11 Pacific Rim countries and another of Obama's prized accomplishments.
"Great thing for the American worker what we just did," Trump said as he signed the order in the Oval Office.
Yet even as Trump moves to implement his agenda, he is still making false claims.
During a reception with lawmakers at the White House Monday evening, Trump claimed the reason he'd lost the popular vote to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton was that 3 million to 5 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally had voted. That's according to a Democratic aide familiar with the exchange who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.
There is no evidence to support Trump's claim. He made a similar statement on Twitter in late November that he had won the Electoral College in a "landslide" and "won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally." Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes but lost the electoral contest.
Trump's assertion appears to be part of a continuing pattern for him and his new administration in which falsehoods overshadow his outreach efforts.
On Tuesday, Trump summoned the heads of the big three American automakers, General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler, for a breakfast meeting at the White House. He pledged to scrap regulations and reduce taxes on corporations that keep jobs in the U.S., though he did not specify his plans for either.
His administration, he said, will "go down as one of the most friendly countries" for business.
Trump's actions signal a reset after a tumultuous weekend dominated by his and his spokesman's false statements about inauguration crowds and their vigorous complaints about media coverage of the celebrations. While Trump's advisers have long accepted his tendency to become fixated on seemingly insignificant issues, some privately concede that his focus on inauguration crowds was unhelpful on the opening weekend of his presidency.
In addition to his executive action on TPP, Trump signed memorandums freezing most federal government hiring — though he noted an exception for the military — and reinstating a ban on providing federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option. The regulation, known as the "Mexico City Policy," has been a political volleyball, instituted by Republican administrations and rescinded by Democratic ones since 1984.
The actions were among the long list of steps candidate Trump pledged to take on his opening day as president. But other "Day One" promises were going unfulfilled, including plans to propose a constitutional amendment imposing term limits on members of Congress and terminating Obama's executive actions deferring deportations for some people living in the U.S. illegally.