US Keystone pipeline approved after long fight

  • 25/03/2017
US President Donald Trump smiles after announcing a permit for TransCanada Corp's Keystone XL oil pipeline (Reuters)
US President Donald Trump smiles after announcing a permit for TransCanada Corp's Keystone XL oil pipeline (Reuters)

The United States has issued a presidential permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the Canadian company said on Friday, ending a years-long battle between environmentalists and the industry over whether Washington should approve it.

US President Donald Trump will announce the permit alongside TransCanada chief executive officer Russell Girling at the White House later Friday, according to a senior administration official.

The pipeline linking Canadian oil sands to US refiners had been blocked for years by former President Barack Obama, who said it would do nothing to reduce fuel prices for US motorists and contribute to emissions linked to global warming. Environmental groups have forcefully opposed the pipeline.

Mr Trump, however, campaigned on a promise to approve it, saying it would create thousands of jobs and help the oil industry, and signed an executive order soon after taking office in January to advance the project.

The multibillion-dollar pipeline would bring more than 800,000 barrels per day of heavy crude from Canada's oil sands in Alberta into Nebraska, linking to an existing pipeline network feeding US refineries and ports along the Gulf of Mexico.

Approvals are still needed from state regulators, and the pipeline could face legal challenges.

Expedited approval of projects is part of Mr Trump's approach to a 10-year, US$1 trillion infrastructure package he promised on the campaign trail.

The White House is looking for ways to speed up approvals and permits for other infrastructure projects, which can sometimes take years to go through a regulatory maze.

Environmental groups that have opposed the pipeline say they will continue the fight with petitions, political pressure and mass protests.

The Keystone XL pipeline crosses over the Dakota access pipeline, which has also faced fierce opposition from native Americans and environmental groups.