Oil & Gas Editorial: Donald J. Trump - Builder By Executive Order

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Tim Haïdar

“I’m very good at this, it’s called construction.” - President Donald J. Trump (1946 - )

Now in the third week of the Trump presidency, the Commander-in-Chief of the world's only superpower is flexing his statutory instruments.

Since taking office on January 20th, President Trump has used 22 legislative devices - including executive orders, presidential memoranda and proclamations - to enact policy changes at a rate of more than one a day. To put this in perspective, his predecessor, Barack Obama, issued 277 in his eight years in office.

Amidst the furore created by the January 27th order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”, which imposes a four month suspension of the US refugee programme and a three month travel ban on nationals from seven “terror hotspots”, five other oil and gas-related executive instruments have been afforded some time in the shadows of public opinion.  

Disseminated on the same day, January 24th, two executive orders and three memoranda resurrected two of America’s largest, and most controversial, infrastructure projects: the stalled Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. 

Representing 3,107 kilometres of unfinished transit artery, these projects link crude from the Athabasca oil sands in Canada and shale oil from the Bakken formation to US storage and refining hubs. The presidential actions pertain to the environmental permitting processes involved, the streamlining of the permitting process for manufacture, and a six-month window for the US Commerce Department to prioritise the consumption of US steel in the construction process.

If there is one thing that Donald can trumpet about, it is his record as a builder. Whether it be a wall/fence on the southern border or a few thousand kilometres of hydrocarbons superhighway from the North to Midwest, you can bet that the next four years will see a lot of infrastructure emblazoned with Trump’s moniker. 

While his prowess as a constructor is both estimable and unquestionable, it is his propensity for deconstructing the fabric of an already riven society that will most concern his detractors in the coming four years….