Flash back to last year. The winter was cold and social media feeds flooded with the hashtag #NoDAPL, protesting massive oil-pipeline projects called the Dakota Access Pipeline (traversing North and South Dakota and threatening the Standing Rock Reservation of the Sioux tribe). After these hashtags baited mainstream media into coverage of protests by environmentalists and Native American protectionists alike, the Army Corps of Engineers ordered DAPL to cease, and possibly find a new route. Another massive transcontinental oil pipeline project, called the Keystone XL and initiated by a Canadian firm, was never even approved by President Obama, who vetoed it in 2015.
And now, welcome to the Trump Administration. On Day 5 of his tenure, President Trump has made an order clearing the way for both pipelines to manifest. The Keystone XL may be subject to renegotiated terms, like the usage of American steel, but the signal is clear: Trump will move on as many of his campaign promises as possible, as quickly as possible. And it's the latest move in his deconstruction and reversal of Obama-era landmarks, after yesterday's order to effectively kill the Obama-boosted Trans Pacific Partnership (popularized on the campaign trail as "TPP," a hotly contested economic and environmental agreement situated in the South Pacific which Bernie and eventually Hillary also opposed), as well as an executive order on Day 1 to lay groundwork to dismantle Obama's signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
How does this affect people? Well let's run down the principles.
First off, President Trump. He gets to look good in the eyes of his base, he gets to frame this as a victory for his economic stimulus efforts, but he also has to reckon with a possible conflict-of-interest: Trump owned stock in the Dakota Access Pipeline's parent company, Energy Transfer Partners. (The White House says Trump has sold off all equity in the company, but no documentation to that effect is available at time of publish.)
Secondly, Canada. As relates to the Canadian-conceived Keystone XL pipeline, President Justin Trudeau is all for this, with the Energy Minister of his administration saying "We have been supportive of this since the day we were sworn into government."
And last but certainly not least, environmentalists and Native American protectionists, interests which have banded together in a coalition of defiance and promised to continue fighting after news of Trump's executive orders. In a statement, Greenpeace Director Annie Leonard said: "A powerful alliance of Indigenous communities, ranchers, farmers, and climate activists stopped the Keystone and the Dakota Access pipelines the first time around, and the same alliances will come together to stop them again if Trump tries to raise them from the dead."
Meanwhile, Standing Rock tribe attorney Jon Hasselman has promised a lawsuit defending the Army Corps of Engineers initial decision to take a proper survey of the pipeline's environmental impact, and seek alternate routes.
As the ball moves from the Oval Office back to the frontlines of the pipeline construction -- and the nation's high courts -- we'll be watching.