Donald Trump

Trump Signs Executive Orders Advancing Controversial Dakota Access, Keystone Pipelines

Trump was also invited to address a Joint Session of Congress on Feb. 28, in what would be his first speech to the legislature

President Donald Trump moved to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines Tuesday, a pair of projects that were blocked by the Obama administration due in part to environmental concerns. Both orders are subject to renegotiations of the agreements.

Trump also signed a notice requiring the materials for the pipelines to be constructed in the United States, though it was unclear how he planned to enforce the measure.

"From now we are going to start making pipelines in the United States," Trump said from the Oval Office on a busy day in Washington, with many hearings scheduled on Capitol Hill.

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Looking ahead, Trump announced that he planned to nominate a justice for the Supreme Court next week, moving swiftly to try to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The president summoned top senators to the White House later Tuesday to discuss his short list of nominees, which reportedly has been narrowed to three names.

Trump has sought to focus his first full week in office on jobs and the economy. Republicans, as well as some unions, have cited the pipeline projects as prime opportunities for job growth.

Former President Barack Obama stopped the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in late 2015, declaring it would have undercut U.S. efforts to clinch a global climate change deal that was a centerpiece of his environmental legacy. The pipeline would run from Canada to Nebraska where it would connect to existing lines running to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast. The U.S. government needs to approve the pipeline because it would cross the nation's northern border.

Separately, late last year, the Army Corps of Engineers declined to allow construction of the Dakota Access pipeline under Lake Oahe, saying alternative routes needed to be considered. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its supporters say the project threatens drinking water and Native American sites, though Energy Transfer Partners, the company that wants to build the pipeline, disputes that and says the pipeline will be safe.

The pipeline is to carry North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois.

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Trump said Tuesday at a meeting with the heads of the big three American automakers, General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler, that he is, "to a large extent, an environmentalist," though he didn't elaborate.

But the president has signaled a different approach to the oil and gas industry from Obama's, nominating former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Pruitt, a frequent critic of the EPA, supported Keystone XL.

[NATL] The Fight Over Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock

Trump also met with Indian Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi. A statement says the two leaders discussed opportunities for cooperation in economy and defense, and security in South and Central Asia. They resolved that their nations "stand shoulder to shoulder in the global fight against terrorism." Trump says India is a "true friend" of the U.S. in addressing global challenges, and he has invited Modi to visit later in the year.

The president was also set to meet new CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Senate leadership Tuesday.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday he has invited Trump to address a Joint Session of Congress on Feb. 28. It would be his first speech to Congress.

Even as Trump moves to implement his agenda, he is still making false claims.

During a reception with lawmakers at the White House Monday evening, Trump claimed the reason he'd lost the popular vote to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton was that 3 million to 5 million voted illegally, including immigrants living in the U.S. without documentation. That's according to two NBC News sources familiar with the private exchange.

There is no evidence to support Trump's claim. He made a similar statement on Twitter in late November that he had won the Electoral College in a "landslide" and "won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally." Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes but lost the electoral contest.

Trump's assertion appears to be part of a continuing pattern for him and his new administration in which falsehoods overshadow his outreach efforts.

Also Tuesday, Senate committes approved Ben Carson for housing secretary, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for United Nations Ambassador and Wilbur Ross to lead the Commerce Department. A hearing for attorney general pick Sen. Jeff Sessions was delayed one week.

All committee votes must be approved by the Senate.

Rep. Tom Price (health and human services secretary), Elaine Chao (labor secretary), Linda McMahon (small business administrator) and Rep. Mick Mulvaney (Office of Management and Budget director) also had committee hearings Tuesday.

NBC's Asher Klein contributed to this report.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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