Back during President Trump’s first week in office, he signed several worrying executive orders, including one that brought the Keystone XL pipeline back from the dead. This specifically ordered the pipeline’s proposed builder, TransCanada Corp., to resubmit its construction application to the State Department – so long as they used American steel.
Now, after more than eight years of political warring between environmentalists on one side and the fossil fuel industry on the other, the pipeline from Canada to America has been officially approved by the President and the State Department. TransCanada Corp. are to begin construction on the $8 billion project as soon as possible.
The pipeline will carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day form the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico, where the existing Keystone pipeline resides.
“This is a significant milestone for the Keystone XL project,” TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling said in a statement . “We greatly appreciate President Trump’s Administration for reviewing and approving this important initiative and we look forward to working with them.”
Back in late-2015, then-President Obama announced his decision to nix the Keystone XL pipeline, citing climate change as the primary motivation.
“America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action on climate change,” Obama said back then. “Frankly, approving that project would have undercut that global leadership, and that is the biggest risk we face: not acting.”
Today, America is in a very different place.
Despite the world pushing on with the groundbreaking Paris agreement, the climate change denying Trump administration is attempting to revive its flagging coal industry and boost fracking oil production.
Climate change funding is being massively cut, and federal research scientists have been muzzled. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is being dismantled by its archenemy, who is now not only its chief, but also doesn’t think the basic science of carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas is correct.
This pipeline construction approval, then, isn’t surprising at all, but it is a grim milestone marking America’s retreat from global efforts to halt climate change and protect the environment. It also comes off the back of the Dakota Access approval, another controversial pipeline that Obama rejected in the last few weeks of his second term.
These revivals will, however, face three major obstacles. Firstly, each state it passes through must give their official approval. Secondly, the world economy is turning away from oil and to clean energy, so market forces are against the pipeline in principle.
Thirdly, and most importantly, two-thirds of the American public didn’t want this, so it’ll be interesting to see how Keystone XL’s resurrection will play in the polls.