From pipelines to walls, the reasons to protest keep coming
The Short Version
Yesterday, the 45th president invited those behind the Keystone XL pipeline to resubmit a bid for the controversial construction blocked by the Obama administration. He then signed a directive for the US Army Corp of Engineers to expedite studies related to the Dakota Access Pipeline effectively stopped by protestors last year. Today, he will sign orders paving the way for the construction of a wall between the US and Mexico as well as limiting immigration from seven countries. Everywhere we look, the new administration is providing us ample reason to protest.
Down & Dirty Details
Remember all those protests that took place up in North Dakota last year? Thousands of people took part in a standoff between the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and the government over the Dakota Access Pipeline. While momentum was initially slow to build and media attention often waned, protestors stuck it out until President Obama intervened and instructed the US Army Corp of Engineers to consider alternative routes for the pipeline.
No one was dumb enough to think that the matter was settled, though. A new president had already been elected and had gone on record as favoring more domestic oil and gas drilling in addition to the construction of pipelines from the North. Any victory won back in December was only going to be temporary. Sure enough, the president signed a memo to the Secretary of the Army instructing the Corp of Engineers to:
- … review and approve in an expedited manner, to the extent permitted by law and as warranted, and with such conditions as are necessary or appropriate, requests for approvals to construct and operate the DAPL …
- … consider … whether to rescind or modify the memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works dated December 4, 2016
- consider … prior reviews and determinations, including the Environmental Assessment issued in July of 2016 2 for the DAPL, as satisfying all applicable requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act
- review and grant …requests for waivers of notice periods arising from or related to USACE real estate policies and regulations
- issue … any approved easements or rights-of-way immediately after notice is provided to the Congress
The full text of the memo can be found here.
Again, no one is surprised; this is exactly what was expected from the new administration. However, the memo is like a wake-up alarm going off for all those who were unsure when their protests might be needed again.
Within the same document-signing session, the president also signed a document inviting the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline to resubmit a proposal. The Keystone XL project had been fully blocked by the Obama administration back in 2014. This move opens the door for the project to be reconsidered. The memo, which is largely full of legal jargon that comes with anything composed in Washington, not only invites TransCanada to resubmit their bid, but authorizes the Secretary of State to approve the bid and the US Army Corp of Engineers to facilitate the construction. The full text of the order can be found here.
Obviously, we’ve not yet seen the orders regarding immigration, but we do know some of the following matters are to be addressed in the signing at the Department of Homeland Security today.
- An order to ban the entry of refugees into the United States, except for religious minorities escaping persecution, until more aggressive vetting is in place. This is intentionally directed at the number of Syrian refugees previously approved by the Obama administration.
- An order to block visas being issued to anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
- An order directing the construction of a border wall with Mexico.
While there is a reasonable chance not all the orders regarding border security and immigration will be ready for signing today, they are almost certainly to be signed at some point this week.
Why Protests Are Necessary
Every last one of these issues establishes an anti-humanitarian foundation for the entire administration. As pipelines have a proven propensity for leaking, they endanger the health and welfare of anyone who lives downstream. Immigration is a necessary humanitarian need for innocent people driven from countries at war as well as those simply looking for a better way of life. The president is so anti-humanitarian that he has even threatened to deny federal funding to the more than 200 Sanctuary Cities scattered across the US. [A current list of the Sanctuary Cities can be found here.]
This is a case of silence yielding consent. When the people of the United States do not speak up on a matter, when we stay in our comfortable chairs and warm houses and do absolutely nothing regarding an issue, Washington then proceeds to do whatever the hell they want. While protests are not always successful, they do at least remind members of Congress that they are answerable to their constituents in the next election. We can replace every last one of them if necessary.
While regular communication with your members of Congress is good, protests emphasize to them just how important an issue is to the American people. Sitting in Washington, D.C. day after day can be numbing. Members of Congress not only lose touch with their direct constiuents, they lose touch with the realities of the nation they represent. They need us to remind them that we’re not only paying attention, but that we actually care about specific issues.
Choose What You Can Do
I know not everyone can do every thing. No one can be at every march. Some of us can’t march at all. The number of issues we care about is larger than we have time to address. A friend posted a link to this article on Medium.com regarding how to #StayOutraged. There is a lot of good advice in that article. It’s going to be a long four years and issue fatigue is going to set in quickly.
Consider what you care about. Find an effective form of protest that works for you. Then, make your opinions known. Loudly. Forcefully.
Let us constantly remind this administration that they do not have a mandate. Despite what the president claims, they lost the popular vote soundly. There is no legitimate evidence of fraud. We need to prove just how strong we are in our opposition to his presidency and, especially, his policies.