Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines: the recency effect on future effects

By ERIN McAULIFFE

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Keystone vs. Dakota Access Pipeline

In November 2014, Senate Democrats stopped legislation that would have allowed 1,200 miles of final construction on the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline became a contentious topic in 2011 after environmentalists groups and the oil industry saw it as a battle between climate change complacency and employment opportunities. Obama vetoed the bill in Feb. 2015, however, this month’s inauguration has the Keystone XL pipeline back in the news.

On Tuesday, Jan. 24 President Trump signed executive orders to revive the Keystone XL Pipeline alongside the Dakota Access Pipeline, another environmentally contentious pipeline that Obama took steps toward defeating.

Google searches related to the two pipelines show a larger spike in Keystone Pipeline searches after the executive orders. The reason for the discrepancy accounts for the recency effect of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests and headlining support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe from celebrities like Shailene Woodley and Pharrell Williams. The pipeline’s current route is set a half-mile from the Sioux reservation’s water supply, raising contamination concerns.

The largest spike in Dakota Access Pipeline searches came between Dec. 4 and Dec. 10, Obama and the Department of the Army refused the final $3.7 billion for the project on Dec. 4. Instead they announced an Environmental Impact Statement to explore alternative routes and consider consequences of the pipeline.

It remains to be seen how the Army will conduct the EIS in light of President Trump’s executive orders.

Keystone XL vs. Dakota Access Pipeline

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