President Donald Trump signed executive orders Tuesday that would make it easier to build two of the country's most controversial proposed pipeline projects: the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The directives were widely described in the press as “executive orders,” but according to USA Today, that’s not quite accurate: They were styled as “presidential memorandum.” While largely identical to executive orders, presidential memorandum differ in the ways they are recorded and published. One key difference, according to USA Today: “Under an executive order signed by President John F. Kennedy, an executive order must cite the authority the president has to issue it. That could be the constitution, or a specific statute. Presidential memoranda have no such requirement.”

The Keystone XL project faced seven years of delays and disputes from environmental activists before President Barack Obama rejected it in 2015. Following Trump's election, a representative from TransCanada Corporation (NYSE:TRP) (Calgary, Alberta) said the company was "evaluating ways to engage the new administration on the benefits, the jobs and the tax revenues this project brings to the table." For more information, see November 11, 2016, article - Trump Election Raises Hopes for Keystone XL.

Engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company AECOM Technology Corporation (NYSE:ACM) (Los Angeles, California) is among the businesses that could see opportunities from Keystone's construction. For more information, see November 16, 2016, article - AECOM Sees Promise in Trump's Pledges on Infrastructure, and November 17, 2016, article - Oil & Gas Industry Cheers Trump's Election.

In North Dakota, environmental activists and Native American groups have spent more than a year vigorously protesting Energy Transfer Partners LP's Dakota Access Pipeline project, which would bring crude oil from the state's Bakken Shale to the U.S. Gulf Coast region. In December, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the project an easement so as to explore alternative routes. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation lies near the current pipeline project route, says it would endanger local drinking water supplies. For more information, see December 5, 2016, article - Army Corps of Engineers Denies Dakota Pipeline Easement.

One possible sticking point for Dakota Access is a recent dip in interest among oil-production companies in the Bakken Shale. North Dakota's state regulators said earlier this month that weak crude-oil prices and frigid winter weather likely will push oil production in the state below 1 million barrels per day by the end of January, and rising exploration expenses haven't helped. For more information, see January 17, 2017, article - North Dakota Likely to See Big Drop in Oil Production as More Companies Turn Away from Bakken.

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