With the stroke of his pen, President Trump reversed Obama’s orders to block construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines on Tuesday.
While signing his executive orders, Trump promised the construction of the Keystone pipeline would bring “lot of jobs. 28,000 jobs.” He also signed an order to ensure all pipeline in the U.S. is made in America.
Not long after Trump put pen to paper, dozens of people showed up outside the U.S. District Court building in Reno. Autumn Harry attended the demonstration, she said, “to show our support for our people in Standing Rock and to let them know that we support them in this fight.”
The University of Nevada, Reno senior has been active in protesting the 1,200-mile Dakota Access Pipeline for months, even travelling to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation last summer. Harry said, “so for me, it’s really personal.”
The Environmental Science major was raised in the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe and learned the importance of water in Native American culture from a young age. Harry said, “we have a huge, a really strong connection to our water; and all native peoples know water is life. Without water, we cannot survive.”
Water contamination is a main concern of the native Sioux tribe in North Dakota if the pipeline is built through their sacred land. The pipeline would run under the Missouri River, posing a threat to the water supply, but Harry believes the effects of the Dakota Access Pipeline would be felt worldwide.
She said, “with every pipeline or with every fracking operation, there’s more and more greenhouse gases being emitted into the air and that does contribute to climate change, so we’re all affected by these projects.”
While Tuesday’s executive order comes as bad news for the people at Standing Rock, it does not come as a surprise. Harry said, “during his campaign, Trump had said he was invested in the Dakota Access Pipeline, so we already knew when he got into office he was going to do everything he could to ensure that pipeline was built.”
President Trump had invested as much as $300,000 dollars in companies constructing the pipeline, but he sold all of his stock last year to avoid a conflict of interest when he became president.
Trump’s pick for Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, sat on the board for Energy Transfer Partners, the main company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. Perry resigned in early January.
Autumn Harry believes this most recent action by the president will only spark more opposition to pipeline projects. She said, “I think there’s going to be a lot more people who are planning on making the journey back to North Dakota, including myself; especially because they do need people to stand up. Trump and his administration have made it very clear that they want to do everything they can to ensure that these pipelines are built, but we have to stand up against them.”