Trump Administration Approves Permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline

The Trump administration has announced it is issuing a permit approving construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The announcement, made by the U.S State Department, comes after a nine-year battle by environmentalists and local landowners to stop the project, which will carry 830,000 barrels a day of carbon-intense tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska.

The permit was approved by the under secretary of state for political affairs Thomas Shannon; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, had recused himself from the decision. “In making his determination that issuance of this permit would serve the national interest, the Under Secretary considered a range of factors, including but not limited to foreign policy; energy security; environmental, cultural, and economic impacts; and compliance with applicable law and policy,” the State Department said in a statement released today.

The approval comes two months after President Trump signed a memorandum to revive the project, urging the pipeline’s developer, TransCanada, Corp., to resubmit its permit application. President Obama had rejected the application in November 2015, citing the pipeline’s contribution to climate change. Construction of the 875-mile, $8 billion pipeline needs presidential approval because it crosses international borders. 

“This is a significant milestone for the Keystone XL project,” Russ Girling, president of TransCanada, said in a statement. “We greatly appreciate President Trump’s Administration for reviewing and approving this important initiative.”

The project still faces hurdles, however. Officials in Nebraska need to approve the pipeline’s route through the state, where local landowners have campaigned against the project for years. That process that could take at least another six months.