Trump administration approves Keystone XL oil pipeline

Fortunately, yet another Obama legacy item is being undone by Donald Trump, as the new president issued the requisite permit for the pipeline Friday morning.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was "very pleased" with the announce from the Trump White House Friday.

In a lengthy report, the State Department alluded to the Paris deal as one reason. What he neglected to mention was that TransCanada, the company seeking to build the pipeline to transport shale oil, wasn't going to leave the oil in the ground; it was just going to sell it elsewhere.

Fred Jauss, partner at the global law firm Dorsey & Whitney and a former attorney with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said local permitting would also be a challenge."The Presidential Permit is only one part of a web of federal, state, and local permits that must be obtained prior to starting construction", he said.

The completed Keystone XL Pipeline is to carry oil from Canada's tar sands in Alberta to Nebraska in the upper Great Plains, where an existing pipeline would carry the Canadian oil south to refineries in Texas. Though it still faces other major hurdles, including disputes over the route, the president said the federal government was formulating final details "as we speak".

The president says the decision ushers in a "new era" of American energy policy and will reduce US dependence on foreign oil. The president also directed the State Department to determine within 60 days whether the pipeline is in the national interest.

Obama argued the oil wouldn't stay in the US because it would be exported after being processed in American refineries.

The oil industry and some labor unions have supported the pipeline, largely for the thousands of construction jobs it would provide.

The president said he would get in touch with Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts later in the day.TransCanada applied to the Nebraska Public Service Commission in February for approval of the pipeline's route through the state.

Portions of Keystone have already been built.

The permit was signed by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon Jr after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was chief executive of oil giant ExxonMobil before joining Trump's cabinet, exempted himself from participation in the pipeline decision to avoid a conflict of interest. "Canada is that source", Carr said. A day of action in Washington scheduled for April 29 will feature opposition to Keystone XL, and anti-fossil fuel organization 350.org says that it will press members of Congress to renounce their support of the pipeline during the spring recess.

"The Keystone XL pipeline is a disaster for people, wildlife and the planet", said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Still, the White House did acknowledge some environmental concerns.

Native American tribes, some landowners and environmental groups oppose the pipeline, fearing it would contaminate water supplies and contribute to pollution.

Facing pressure from environmental groups, President Barack Obama vetoed legislation that would have approved the project in February 2015.

  • Zachary Reyes