US President Donald Trump on Friday green-lighted the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline, declaring it a “great day for American jobs” and siding with energy advocates over environmental groups in a heated debate over climate change.
The presidential permit comes nearly a decade after Calgary-based TransCanada applied to build the US$8 billion pipeline, which will snake from Canada through the US.
The US Department of State said the project advances US national interests, in a complete reversal of the conclusion former US president Barack Obama’s administration reached less than 18 months ago.
“It’s a great day for American jobs and a historic moment for North America and energy independence,” Trump said.
Keystone would reduce costs and reliance on foreign oil while creating thousands of jobs, he said, adding: “It’s going to be an incredible pipeline.”
The decision caps the long scientific and political fight over a project that became a proxy battle in the larger fight over global warming.
TransCanada, Trump said, can now build Keystone “with efficiency and with speed.”
Although 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 2,735km pipeline, as envisioned, would carry oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. It would move roughly 800,000 barrels of oil per day.
Native American groups, environmentalists and landowners who have opposed Keystone expressed outrage, and Greenpeace said the US was “moving backwards” on climate and energy policy.
“Keystone was stopped once before, and it will be stopped again,” Greenpeacec US director Annie Leonard said.
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