Leaking Promises: On the Keystone XL Pipeline

Marie Boussard

Jake Abrahams

Jake Abrahams

In 2015, then President Obama responded to growing environmental protests by stopping the completion of the Keystone XL Pipeline. In 2016, after months of watching protesters fight against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, former President Obama decided to halt the construction project. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Greenpeace Director Annie Leonard had called for its end. In March 2017, President Trump signed memorandums authorizing the construction of the pipeline. His main arguments are that the construction jobs will give work to about 28,000 Americans and will increase the use of American steel.

However, it appears that President Trump’s promise of using American steel will not be kept. Because the pipeline’s construction had already been started, the pipeline is exempt from this rule. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained that the presidential memorandum regarding the pipeline's construction did not affect the Keystone XL pipeline’s use of material: "The way that executive order is written, it’s specific to new pipelines or those that are being repaired. Since this one is already currently under construction, the steel is already literally sitting there; it would be hard to go back." The fact that the pipeline’s construction does not follow one of the main guidelines of the presidential memorandum can cause one to question President Trump’s incentive for the construction of the pipelines. The chief executive of the Energy Transfers Partner, the company which will be benefiting from the use of the pipeline, donated $100,000 to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. While President Trump denies any link between the donation and the memorandum, the quickness of his actions brings doubt to his priorities: businesses or Americans. It appears as if he is prioritizing personal gain and already successful businesses.  

In order to construct the pipeline, the Army told the Congress that it granted a 30-year easement. This is controversial, as the United Nations believed that using Reservation land for the pipeline should not be allowed. The United Nations also believe that using the Army as a means of controlling protesters and such a construction went against the protection of human rights and individual freedom.

President Trump’s decision to continue the construction of the pipelines supports the use of fossil fuels and wealthy businesses. His decision does not consider the racial divide between Native Americans and modern-day Americans. His decision does not consider climate change. President Trump has no regard for Native Americans or their right to not only maintaining their sacred land but preserving their water. The pipeline does not increase the use of American steel either. Whether or not the constructions will create 28,000 jobs for American citizens is yet to see. If this last claim follows the pattern set by the other claims, it seems that the construction will not offer that many jobs to Americans.