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U.S. State Department Issues Permit For Keystone XL Pipeline

President Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 24 supporting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Evan Vucci AP
President Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 24 supporting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Updated at 8:15 a.m. ET Friday

The U.S. State Department has signed and issued a presidential permit to construct the Keystone XL pipeline. That reverses former President Barack Obama's 2015 decision to reject the controversial pipeline.

Pipeline company TransCanada says that in conjunction with the Trump administration signing off on its pipeline, it will drop a claim for more than $15 billion that it filed under the North American Free Trade Agreement. The company also says it will drop a lawsuit that claimed Obama's decision was unconstitutional.


"We greatly appreciate President Trump's Administration for reviewing and approving this important initiative and we look forward to working with them as we continue to invest in and strengthen North America's energy infrastructure," said Russ Girling, TransCanada president and CEO.

Four days after Trump was sworn into office, he invited TransCanada to resubmit its application for the pipeline. Trump also directed the State Department to make a determination within 60 days on whether the pipeline is in the national interest.

A State Department spokesman says Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recused himself from that review process. Tillerson was CEO of ExxonMobil, which has supported construction of the pipeline. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon Jr. signed the determination.

The proposed pipeline is controversial because of the oil it would transport. It's designed to move crude from Canada's oil sands in Alberta, south to the U.S. Gulf Coast where it could be refined or exported. Environmentalists oppose oil sands because producing it requires additional processing that emits more pollution.

"The same communities who defeated this pipeline before — Indigenous leaders, landowners, farmers, and grassroots activists — are ready to fight again," says Executive Director May Boeve.


That fight is expected to take place in states the pipeline would travel through, especially in Nebraska where some landowners and environmentalists have led a years-long legal battle to stop the pipeline.

The oil industry and some labor unions have supported the pipeline, largely for the thousands of construction jobs the project would provide. But those jobs are temporary. Once built the State Department has estimated the pipeline will employ about 35 people.

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