President Trump approved a permit for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday. The $8 billion project would span 1,200 miles, connecting Alberta’s massive tar sands crude with pipelines and refineries on the Texas gulf coast would carry up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day.
TransCanada, the Calgary-based firm that has been trying to win approval for the pipeline for nearly 10 years, announced earlier Friday morning that the State Department has signed and issued a construction permit for the project.
As a result of the approval, TransCanada will drop an arbitration claim it filed for $15 billion in damages under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
In a statement Friday, the State Department said that in reviewing TransCanada’s application in light of Trump’s recent executive order, officials determined that issuing a permit “would serve the national interest.” The undersecretary who signed the permit, Thomas A. Shannon Jr., had “considered a range of factors, including but not limited to foreign policy; energy security; environmental, cultural and economic impact; and compliance with applicable law and policy.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former chief executive of ExxonMobil, had recused himself from the decision.
The State Department, as instructed in Trump’s presidential memorandum of Jan. 24, relied on the supplemental environmental impact statement issued in January 2014. In that analysis, the State Department, which oversees applications for cross-border pipelines, had concluded that the tar sands would be developed with or without the pipeline and that as a result the decision would not affect climate change.
Construction will not start just yet, the company said. It still needs a permit from Nebraska’s Public Service Commission. The company last month filed for the Nebraska PSC permit, which is necessary for construction and in cases in which the company resorts to using eminent domain because landowners refuse to let construction take place. TransCanada has agreements covering 90 percent of the route in each of the three states the pipeline will cross.
The pipeline also traverses Montana and South Dakota. In Nebraska, it would connect with other pipelines linked to oil refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. (Washington Post, 3/24/2017)