In his first week as president, Donald Trump has swiftly reversed the work of thousands of protesters who persuaded President Barack Obama to put the brakes on the Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL, which runs through sacred Native American land in North Dakota. At the same time, he gave the go-ahead for the Keystone XL pipeline, for which the State Department had rejected a permit in 2015.
Trump claims the Keystone XL pipeline alone would create 28,000 jobs over the course of its construction, but that number is believed to be severely inflated. The vast majority of those jobs would be temporary, many for less than six months, according to the Washington Post. Outdoor recreation and environmental advocates fear that the projects would severely damage the environment, especially if there were ever to be a leak.
“This is 100 percent unacceptable and we must act,” Protect Our Winters wrote on Facebook Tuesday morning after it was announced that Trump would push forward on the oil pipelines. “We can no longer afford to be complacent.”
POW also challenged its supports to a “fun/terrifying game”: Anyone who finds the phrase “climate change” on the White House’s website gets a prize. Try searching for it, and you’ll find no such terminology. (It does say, under the America First Energy Plan, that “President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.”)
"I think he’s sending an incredibly strong signal about how he feels about climate change," said Lindsay Bourgoine, manager of advocacy and campaigns for POW.
Yes, we're still in a transition period, she said, and can't expect Trump to pick up where Obama left off. But his temporary ban on tweets from National Park Service accounts, and his mad dash to push forward with pipelines that would damage the environment and speed up climate change, is worrying.
"I think we should be really concerned," Bourgoine said. "To me, the concrete action to combat that is really stepping up. I don’t think we have any time for apathy anymore, for people who care about climate change."
POW is concerned that the White House's public comment line has been shut down, and that the voicemail boxes of many senators are too full to receive more messages. Calling public officials on the phone is the most effective way to contact them, Bourgoine said.
Trump's order for national parks to stop tweeting came after the National Park Service’s main Twitter account retweeted an image comparing photos from Obama’s inauguration and Trump’s, in which there are significant empty spaces on the National Mall. Badlands National Park in South Dakota ignored the ban and tweeted facts about climate change in defiance, which have since been deleted.
But National Park Service employees show no signs of backing down: on Tuesday, a new Twitter account, @AltNatParkServ, popped up as the “Unofficial ‘Resistance’ team of U.S. National Park Service.”