RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – President Trump approved two controversial oil pipelines on Tuesday, clearing the way for construction to move forward.
“This is about streamlining the incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible permitting process and reducing regulatory burdens for domestic manufacturing,” he as he signed the executive orders.
The president signed executive orders to advance approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. Almost immediately, rallies broke out in Washington, New York, and in Richmond.
Protesters descended upon VCU’s Compass Plaza, organizing against the executive orders. With signs and voices raised, they said their resistance does not end there.
Call-and-response chants of “No Pipeline!” echoed across campus Tuesday night as a crowd of more than 60 people gathered.
“It’s incredible,” said Beth Roach, who is part of the Coalition of Woodland Nations. “I am a Nottoway Tribe of Virginia member.”
Roach led demonstrators to say ‘water is life’ in Lakota.
“The infrastructure being approved and expedited on the Keystone and Dakota Access is really setting a precedent,” Roach told 8News.
The Keystone XL Pipeline was stalled for years under the Obama administration, until president Obama denied approval for the pipeline’s construction altogether in 2015, according to CNN. The Dakota Access Pipeline stalled amid protests opposing its construction on Native American lands. Then late last year the Obama administration denied the company a permit it needed to complete the pipeline.
By approving the Dakota Access Pipeline, President Trump is likely to spark a new wave of protests over the issue. “We want to show that even under a Trump presidency we can mobilize people around the issues that matter,” said organizer Camila Aránguiz-Allende.
Richmond protesters said they are planning ways to turn their opposition into legislative action.
“This is only a starting point,” Aránguiz-Allende said. “We’re all ready to make some sort of statement and we’re all ready to commit some sort of action,” Roach added.
Organizers of the Richmond rally told 8News they began putting plans together as soon as they got word of the president’s executive orders.
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.