Trump gives green light to Key­stone oil pipe­line

Groups who had op­posed the pro­ject ex­pressed out­rage.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Josh Lederman

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump green­lighted the long-de­layed Key­stone XL pipe­line on Fri­day, 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 $8 bil­lion pipe­line, which will snake from Canada through the United States. Trump’s State De­part­ment said the pro­ject ad­vances U.S. na­tional in­ter­ests, in a com­plete re­ver­sal of the con­clu­sion Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion reached less than a year-and-a-half ago.

“It’s a great day for Amer­i­can jobs and a his­toric mo­ment for North Amer­ica and en­ergy in­de­pen­dence,” Trump said, stand­ing along­side Tran­sCanada’s CEO in the Oval Of­fice. Key­stone will 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 among ad­vo­cacy groups over a pro­ject that be­came a proxy bat­tle in the larger fight over global warm­ing. And Fri­day’s de­ci­sion, while long fore­shad­owed by Trump’s pub­lic sup­port for Key­stone, rep­re­sents one of the big­gest steps to date by his ad­min­is­tra­tion to pri­or­i­tize eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment over en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns.

Tran­sCanada, Trump said, can now build Key­stone “with ef­fi­ciency and with speed.” 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 1,700-mile 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, more than one-fifth of the oil Canada sup­plies to the U.S.

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, Na­tive Amer­i­can groups and landown­ers who’ve op­posed Key­stone ex­pressed out­rage, and Green­peace said the U.S. was “mov­ing back­wards” on cli­mate and en­ergy pol­icy.

“Key­stone was stopped once be­fore, and it will be stopped again,” vowed An­nie Leonard, the group’s U.S. di­rec­tor.

Obama in 2015 re­jected the pipe­line af­ter years of study, say­ing it would un­der­cut U.S. cred­i­bil­ity in the in­ter­na­tional cli­mate change ne­go­ti­a­tions that cul­mi­nated later that year in a global deal in Paris. He echoed the ar­gu­ment of en­vi­ron­men­tal groups that Key­stone would en­cour­age use of car­bon-heavy tar sands oil, con­tribut­ing heav­ily to global warm­ing.

Re­ly­ing mostly on the same in­for­ma­tion, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion re­versed Obama’s de­ci­sion Fri­day.

In a lengthy re­port, the State De­part­ment al­luded to the Paris deal as one rea­son. Be­cause many other coun­tries have pledged to ad­dress cli­mate change, it said Key­stone can pro­ceed with­out un­der­min­ing the over­all ef­fort to slow global warm­ing. The Paris agree­ment com­pels the U.S. and other coun­tries to cut green­house gas emis­sions in com­ing decades.

Key­stone would strengthen U.S. en­ergy se­cu­rity by in­creas­ing ac­cess to Canada’s “de­pend­able sup­ply of crude oil,” said the State De­part­ment, which had ju­ris­dic­tion be­cause the pipe­line crosses the U.S.-Canada bor­der.

But the level of those ben­e­fits has been the sub­ject of ex­haus­tive de­bate in re­cent years.

Obama ar­gued the oil wouldn’t stay in the U.S. be­cause it would be ex­ported af­ter be­ing pro­cessed in Amer­i­can re­finer­ies. Tran­sCanada in­sisted Key­stone “is not an ex­port pipe­line.” Many en­ergy ex­perts in­sisted the truth was some­where in be­tween.

En­vi­ron­men­tal groups ar­gued Canada’s tar sands oil should stay in the ground. But Key­stone’s back­ers said that wouldn’t hap­pen even if the pipe­line wasn’t built. With­out a pipe­line, they said the oil would move by rail or truck, more danger­ous meth­ods which them­selves con­trib­ute green­house gas emis­sions.

How many jobs Key­stone will cre­ate is also widely dis­puted.

Tran­sCanada promised as many as 13,000 con­struc­tion jobs and Trump once pre­dicted it “could be 42,000 jobs.” The vast ma­jor­ity would be “in­di­rect” jobs other in­dus­tries gain from the in­flux of dol­lars and con­struc­tion work­ers. Other es­ti­mates pre­dict just a few thou­sand jobs, last­ing only for the few years the pipe­line is be­ing built. And af­ter that, only a few dozen work­ers would be needed to main­tain the pipe­line.

Tran­sCanada CEO Russ Gir­ling said Fri­day that thou­sands of peo­ple are “ready and itch­ing to get to work.”

Trump boasted as re­cently as this week that Key­stone would be built with Amer­i­can steel, which he has re­quired for new or ex­panded pipe­lines. But Tran­sCanada has al­ready ac­quired the steel for the pro­ject, much of it from Canada and Mex­ico.

Al­though por­tions of Key­stone are al­ready built, it still faces ob­sta­cles to com­ple­tion. In Ne­braska, for ex­am­ple, the route must still be ap­proved and op­po­nents have re­peat­edly thwarted Tran­sCanada’s at­tempts to ac­cess the nec­es­sary land. A com­mis­sion is ex­pected to re­view the mat­ter later this year.

AL DRAGO / THE NEW YORK TIMES

Rus­sell Gir­ling, CEO of Tran­sCanada (left), re­acts Fri­day as Pres­i­dent Trump and oth­ers gather for the an­nounce­ment that a per­mit will be is­sued for the Key­stone XL pipe­line.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.