— CNN (@CNN) January 24, 2017
Not long after his inauguration, President Donald Trump signed his first legislation into law so that Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis could be confirmed as his new Secretary of Defense. Aside from waving a required waiting period, these executive papers were more ceremonial than anything. Yet Trump’s executive order formally withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Monday sent a much stronger message to his supporters and detractors. And if that weren’t enough, the man who often campaigned against President Barack Obama’s penchant for bypassing Congress with executive actions would soon go even further with Tuesday’s orders.
Reuters initially reported the president would sign two new executive orders reviving the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, which were fraught with protest and Obama’s eventual disapproval. Trump and his staff later gathered with members of the press in the Oval Office, where the president formally signed the two orders and offered limited comments on his administration’s reasoning behind them.
“This is with regard to the construction of the Keystone pipeline, something that’s been in dispute,” said Trump. “It’s subject to a renegotiation of terms by us. We’re going to renegotiate some of the terms and, if they’d like, we’ll see if we can get that pipeline built.”
Suggesting that construction of the Keystone XL pipeline would create “28,000 jobs” and “great construction jobs,” Trump signed the executive order and paraded it — complete with his massive, Sharpie-like signature — for the cameras. He then followed it with his second executive order, which pertained to “construction of the Dakota Access pipeline” and an identical situation through which new “terms and conditions [would] be negotiated by” the White House.
As CNN notes, Trump’s alternative approach to both pipelines will “likely… spark a new wave of protests over the issue.” David Goldwyn, former head of the State Department’s energy bureau under Obama, told the New York Times quite the opposite when he claimed “Keystone has never been a significant issue from an environmental point of view in substance, only in symbol.” However, author and environmental activist Bill McKibben seemingly validated CNN’s point when he remarked, “This is not a done deal.”