By Will C, Franklin & Marshall College
Within his first week as the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump has signed to negotiate the Dakota Access and the Keystone XL Pipeline. You may remember this recent controversial topic from October, 2016, when protesters fought against the pipeline that planned to cut through the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota. Peaceful protesters were met with rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas and water cannons to deter those who sought to disrupt the pipelines building advancements. In his signing conference, President Trump validated his actions by claiming, “We’re going to renegotiate some of the terms and if they would like, we will see if we can get that pipeline built. A lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs. Great construction jobs”.
Environmentalists, however, have cause for concern that the 1,179-mile pipeline risks contamination of not only the surrounding land, but humans as well. The original plan called for the pipeline, that will be carrying 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily, to run underneath part of the Missouri River: a drinking water source for many Standing Rock Sioux tribe members. By signing these executive orders, Trump has officially disregarded the environment and climate change as a whole. The new President has theoretically, and potentially literally, added fuel to the fire. If advancements are made by the pipeline construction company, there’s only a short amount of time before the clash between protestors and law enforcement commences yet again with a high probability of escalated violence.
If you have ever taken a US History course, you might recognize that this whole scenario sounds a great deal like the Indian Removal Act that was signed on May 28th, 1830, by President Andrew Jackson. The fact that there have been 38 presidents since the time President Jackson was in power, and yet still déjà vu seems to be right around the corner, is quite remarkable. It also does not even seem that far fetched from Trump’s repertoire given his statements during the campaign season, such as the deportation of immigrants and his often times racist views. Perhaps President Trump’s campaign slogan of, “Make America great again” was a literal calling to go back to the 19th century and all the policies that came with the times.
Inauguration week has been chaotic for not only the United States, but also for the world. Trump has been busy getting down to business with revoking and transforming many rules and policies put in place by former President Barack Obama. With the signing of the Dakota Access and the Keystone XL Pipeline, the newly elected president has yet again picked a fight with a large group of activists that are ready to put up another fight against climate change. I believe if an agreement can be made between the government and the construction company in charge of building the pipeline, without a doubt escalated violence will continue and the United States will further be distanced from being a united nation.