The Latest: Trump touts support for Dakota Access pipeline

September 6, 2017 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s visit to North Dakota to talk about proposed changes in tax law (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump didn’t miss a chance during a visit to a North Dakota oil refinery to remind supporters of his aid for the Dakota Access pipeline.

Trump pushed through final federal approval of the $3.8 billion project to move North Dakota oil to Illinois shortly after taking office. The project had been stalled due to a lawsuit and protests by American Indian tribes and environmental groups.

Trump during his speech noted the opposition but also said opponents “didn’t know” why they were against the project.

Opponents worry about the pipeline’s impact on the environment and cultural sites. Greenpeace issued a statement before Trump’s speech saying the pipeline battle “was and is about indigenous sovereignty and the protection of Native land and water supply.”

Trump said pushing through the pipeline’s completion was “the right thing to do.”



4:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump told farmers and ranchers in North Dakota coping with a deep drought that he’s with them “100 percent” but said nothing about the state’s request for a disaster declaration.

Trump told several hundred supporters gathered at a Mandan refinery on Wednesday that he understood the devastation the drought has brought. But he noted the damage Hurricane Harvey has done in Texas, and said, “You are better off.”

Gov. Doug Burgum made the request almost a month ago. The federal government has provided some aid, but a presidential declaration could pave the way for direct disaster payments to producers affected by drought.

Burgum says he pressed the matter of the declaration with Trump earlier in the day, and planned to travel again to Washington on Thursday to lobby for it.


1:30 p.m.

Supporters of President Donald Trump are turning out for his appearance at a North Dakota oil refinery.

The president was due to give a speech on tax issues Wednesday afternoon at the Andeavor refinery in Mandan, near Bismarck. Two hours before Trump’s appearance, no protesters had shown up in a designated area near the refinery.

But Trump fans were there. One, 48-year-old Marty Beard, carried an American flag and a sign that read, “Deport Antifa, BLM, illegals, Muhammad lovers.” Beard said anyone who doesn’t “love this country and want to make it great again” is “part of the problem.”

Charles Tuttle set up a table to sell a range of Trump gear, and said business was good. Tuttle said he had even sold a couple of baseball caps, featuring the presidential seal and Trump signature, despite a hefty $75 price tag.



1:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s visit to North Dakota comes as farmers and ranchers are dealing with the worst drought in decades, and nearly a month to the day that Gov. Doug Burgum asked him for a presidential disaster declaration.

Burgum made the request Aug. 7. The federal government already has provided some aid such as emergency loans. A presidential declaration could pave the way for direct disaster payments to drought-affected producers.

Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki says the request is in the hands of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and it’s not known if Trump might address the drought during his visit.

The U.S. Drought Monitor says two-thirds of North Dakota is in some stage of drought. Nearly one-fourth of the state is in extreme or exceptional drought, the two worst categories.


10:45 a.m.

The backdrop for President Donald Trump’s visit to North Dakota on Wednesday is a refinery that processes up to 74,000 barrels a day of the state’s crude oil into gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel and more.

The Andeavor facility in Mandan is the largest of two refineries that the company — until recently known as Tesoro — operates in the state. The Mandan and Dickinson facilities together refine about 10 percent of the oil produced in North Dakota.

It’s no surprise that Andeavor would be eager to host Trump, a staunch supporter of oil and coal who helped push through the Dakota Access pipeline soon after taking office.

A review of federal campaign finance reports found no direct contributions from the company’s political action committee to Trump. But the company has given $5,000 each to Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer — who might face off in a Senate race next year.


6:40 a.m.

Both of North Dakota’s U.S. senators will make the trip to North Dakota with President Donald Trump on Air Force One.

Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Republican Sen. John Hoeven will be traveling with the president Wednesday. Trump is to speak in Mandan about tax reform.

The White House says Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer will also be on the plane. Heitkamp and Cramer could be matched in next year’s Senate race. Heitkamp is among 10 Democrats in states Trump carried who are up for re-election in 2018. She’s opposed Trump on some issues but sided with him on others. Cramer is a staunch Trump advocate.

Trump will be greeted at the Bismarck Municipal Airport by Gov. Doug Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford.