Bay Area opponents and supporters of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines that were advanced Tuesday by President Donald Trump spoke out about the projects.
In signing the executive order, Trump is chipping away at the environmental legacy of the Obama administration while promising jobs. The president said he wants the projects to make use of American steel, and he wants the pipeline deals renegotiated.
One of the projects' biggest opponents, billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer, blasted Trump's decision, saying that building new fossil fuel infastructure today is one of the all time dumb investment ideas.
"Any time you decide to make stupid investment decisions, it’s a mistake," said Steyer, the founder of NextGen Climate. "And this is a classic example."
Steyer’s goal is to bring climate change to the forefront of American politics. He said it’s good business.
"When we talk about renewables, when we talk about technology and research driven businesses, we’re talking about renewable energy and new energy innovation," he said. "They’re talking about burning rocks."
An oil industry executive said Steyer’s criticism is misplaced.
"The pipelines themselves safely carry their products, whether it’s oil or gas, more than 99 percent of the time," said Marty Durbin, executive vice president with the American Petroleum Institute. "So it’s one of the safest ways to move these products that continue to be critical to our economy moving forward."
It’s likely the new executive order will ramp up protests over the pipelines. In Oakland’s Eastmont neighborhood, home school teacher Tiny Gray-Garcia was explaining the executive orders to her class. Gray-Garcia spent New Year's weekend at the protest over the Dakota Access pipeline and thought it had been stopped - until now.
"I’m in grief," she said. "When that happened, I literally fell apart in the classroom with the young people. I was unable to stand."
Steyer and other activists are promising a fight. A protest gathering has been planned for 6 p.m. Thursday at San Francisco’s federal building.