Heitkamp: Trump’s “America First” Protectionism May Hamper Pipeline Projects

Senator Heidi Heitkamp appears on CNBC's "Squawk Box"

President Donald Trump made a lot of news yesterday when he issued executive orders intended to further the construction/completion of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects.

Both of these projects are very important to North Dakota, and each faced political delays from the Obama administration. Now that political obstruction has largely been ended by our new President. Yet something which got glossed over yesterday is that Trump’s own political proclivities could present their own obstacle.

In addition to the executive orders on Keystone and Dakota Access, Trump also issued an order requiring that all pipeline projects – from new construction to retrofitting older pipes – be done using materials and equipment made in the United States to the greatest degree possible.

You can read the order here. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who is generally for building oil pipelines, pointed out during an interview on CNBC this morning that this could be a complication for these projects.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of pressure on the sourcing of the pipe,” Heitkamp said, referring to the Keystone project specifically. “We don’t know what the source of that pipe is. That’s going to be an issue.”

She also points out that pipelines which facilitate oil exports could be a problem for our new protectionist President.

“I also think it might be an issue on whether that oil gets exported, which is something we considered,” Heitkamp said.

While it’s true Trump’s executive order on pipeline equipment and material leaves the potential for a lot of wiggle room, it’s also true that our President is mercurial and not afraid to shame companies for being insufficiently pro-American.

Is our President going to expect that pipeline companies buy new American-made bulldozers and excavators before a project can go forward? Will foreign-made pipe already purchased and stockpiled for the Keystone XL project have to be replaced by American-made materials?

Who knows.

While many Americans are no doubt happy that Trump is ending Obama’s intransigence when it comes to energy infrastructure, his “America first” views may be a new headache depending how how ardently he applies them.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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