(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump signed two executive orders on Tuesday to move forward with construction of the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, rolling back key Obama administration environmental policies in favor of expanding energy infrastructure.
While oil producers in Canada and North Dakota are expected to benefit from a quicker route for crude oil to U.S. Gulf Coast refiners, a revival of the projects would mark a bitter defeat for Native American tribes and climate activists, who vowed to fight the decisions through legal action.
Trump campaigned on promises to increase domestic energy production and before taking office indicated he supported completion of the Dakota pipeline and re-starting the C$8 billion ($6.1 billion) Keystone XL project, which was rejected in 2015 by then-President Barack Obama.
Protesters had rallied for months against plans to route the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a lake near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, saying it threatened water resources and sacred Native American sites.
It is not yet clear how exactly the orders will move the projects forward.
The North Dakota Petroleum Council, the trade group for the state’s oil producers who are relying on Dakota Access to expand their crude transport options, cheered Trump’s order.
“We think this is a great step forward for energy security in America,” said Ron Ness, the council’s president.