New presidential orders could hinder fights against Mountain Valley Pipeline and others

GILES CO., Va. (WDBJ7) President Donald Trump signed new bills Tuesday that are expected to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL Pipelines to go through.

Trump added another order that might affect pipelines in our area like the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

MVP was unavailable for comment on the bills.

But members of a group against that pipeline going through Giles County say they're not surprised about the Keystone or Dakota pipelines.

It's the other order that speeds through environmental review for the construction that has them very concerned.

President Trump said Tuesday, "The process is so long and cumbersome that they give up before the end, sometimes it takes many, many years and we don't want that to happen. And if it's a no we'll give them a quick no and if it's a yes it's like, 'Let's start building.'"

But the group Preserve Giles County said that would takes their voice away.

Coordinator Richard Shingles explained, "Expediting the environmental review process for pipelines typically means shortening the period for public comment."

He went on to say, "If you take that away, if you shorten it, you're in effect sabotaging the democratic procedure that was built into the review process. That subverts and undermines democracy."

Their public comment period against MVP ended in December.

However, speeding this up could also mean if groups try to fight in the courtroom, they may not be able to.

"Congress and the president [could] pass legislation that says the review process is limited to, say, 60 days and maybe the litigation takes a year. The decision would go ahead," Shingles said.

Shingles, a former professor at Virginia Tech, also said these negatives will definitely outweigh the positives President Trump is promising.

"We're going to put a lot of workers, a lot of skilled workers, back to work," the president said.

But Shingles said, "Most of the jobs come with a go with the pipeline. Once the pipeline is built it's controlled from a control center probably in Pennsylvania."

Shingles said he's been taking calls much of the day Tuesday because there are a lot of questions about what this order means.

He explained, "The reason it's confusing is because you can't stop that process through executive order. Those requirements for public comment on these projects are acts of Congress. An executive order alone won't do that, it's not clear what he hopes to accomplish by the executive order."

He also said whatever the order means they're not going to stop fighting the pipeline or a potential utility corridor that would bring multiple pipelines through here.

He said if Washington takes away their power to voice their displeasure, they'll begin training in non-violent protesting.