President Trump on Friday granted a new presidential permit to a long-stalled segment of TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL (KXL) oil pipeline, opening a potential route for the remaining U.S. portion of the 1,200-mile project to move Canadian oilsands to the Gulf Coast.
Trump’s memorandum stated it is superseding a March 2017 presidential permit and grants permission from a 2004 executive order, as well as a presidential memorandum issued in January 2017.
The new permit requires KXL to meet nearly a dozen conditions related to construction, connection, operation and maintenance.
TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said the president had "clarified the importance" of the long-standing pipeline project, which has been through more than 10 years of environmental review. The president, he said, “has been clear that he wants to create jobs and advance U.S. energy security, and the KXL pipeline does both.”
As perhaps the most studied pipeline in history, environmental reviews have shown that KXL can be built and operated in an "environmentally sustainable and responsible way," Girling said.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) hailed the action and said KXL was "critical to safely delivering energy to American families” and urged it move forward "without delay."
Analysts interpreted Trump's dual acts of revoking his previous approval and granting a new permit as an attempt to moot state-based court and regulatory actions holding up the $8 billion project.
"The principal implication...is that revoking the March 2017 presidential permit could obviate ongoing litigation in the U.S. District Court of Montana and the U.S. State Department's pending appeal of the current injunction on construction” in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, analysts with ClearView Energy Partners LLC said Friday.
The pipeline would transport 830,000 b/d, including 100,000 b/d from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, to Gulf Coast refineries. It was originally blocked by the State Department in November 2015 after determining the project was not in the nation's interest.
Industry reaction was swift and positive, as were reactions by opponents from the environmental community.
The American Energy Alliance said KXL "has gone through all the necessary environmental review, [and] it is time for the delays to end and for the pipeline to be built." Grow America's Infrastructure Now said Trump's latest action "appears intended to shield the project" from legal actions and suggested the National Environmental Policy Act was not applicable to the KXL permit.
Environmental group 350.org called the White House actions "a ridiculous attempt by Trump to skirt due process to benefit an oil corporation," and show "where the president's allegiances lie."