According to a memo released by Donald Trump's transition team, the president-elect supports the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. This memo marks the first time he has publicly come out in support of the controversial pipeline. According to the Associated Press, who obtained a copy of the 17-page document sent to Trump supporters, the memo denies that Trump's support of the DAPL has any connection to his personal investments in the project. As of May, these personal investments included up to $1 million in the pipeline's builder, Energy Transfer Partners, and Phillip 66, an energy company that owns part of the pipeline. Additionally, as the Guardian reports, Energy Transfer Partners donated $103,000 to Trump's presidential campaign.
Recently, water protectors at Standing Rock achieved a victory as the US Army Corps of Engineers announced on Dec. 4 that it denied a permit for DAPL construction to drill beneath Lake Oahe on the Missouri River. A statement released by Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II added that the Corps will be looking for alternative routes for the pipeline. However, this recent gain may be short-lived. The newly-released Trump transition team memo states that Trump "intends to cut the bureaucratic red tape put in place by the Obama administration that has prevented our country from diversifying our energy portfolio," which includes the DAPL. Once in office, Trump and his administration could allow construction to continue along the original route.
Water protectors have been gathered at Standing Rock Reservation since April, and the number of protestors gathered there has grown into the thousands in recent weeks. In his statement, Archambault expressed joy at the possibility of protestors being able to return home to their families this winter. This recent memo, though, may inspire some to remain at Standing Rock until plans for the pipeline's rerouting are confirmed.
In the past, Trump expressed fervent support for the Keystone XL pipeline project President Obama rejected over a year ago on the grounds of fighting climate change. A few months before that landmark decision, Trump tweeted that if elected president he would "immediately approve the Keystone XL pipeline," adding that it would have no impact on the environment. The sentiments expressed in that tweet are now echoed in this latest memo.
Even despite reporting that Trump directly opposes the interests of Standing Rock protestors, the memo expressed support for the First Amendment rights of those fighting against the DAPL. It states, on behalf of Trump and his team, "we hope that local and federal officials continue to give support to local law enforcement so they are able to continue to protect these protesters." Though, in recent weeks, law enforcement stationed at Standing Rock have come under fire for its alleged mistreatment of protestors.
The president-elect has yet to take to Twitter to add comment to his team's memo. One thing that is for certain, however, is that the fight to get the DAPL out of Standing Rock and away from the Missouri River is far from over.
More to come...