State Department to approve Keystone
pipeline permit on Friday: sources
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[March 24, 2017]
By Valerie Volcovici and Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State
Department plans to approve on Friday the permit needed to proceed with
construction of the Canada-to-United States Keystone XL oil pipeline, a
project blocked by former President Barack Obama, according to two
government sources familiar with the process.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the administration would provide
an update on Keystone on Friday but did not offer any details.
Two government sources, who declined to be identified, said on Thursday
that the pipeline approval would be announced by the White House.
One of the sources said the State Department was working to get the
approval completed before Monday, the end of the 60-day timeline under
Trump's January executive order for the construction of Keystone and the
Dakota Access pipelines.
The move would mark the beginning of a process that could be lengthy.
Approvals are needed from state regulators, and the project could face
But Republican President Donald Trump supports Keystone and, days after
he took office in January, ordered its construction. That could mean the
project, proposed in 2008, will eventually be completed.
The State Department's undersecretary for political affairs, Tom
Shannon, is expected approve the cross-border permit for TransCanada
Corp's pipeline since Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO
of ExxonMobil, recused himself from the matter.
The multi-billion dollar Keystone pipeline would bring more than 800,000
barrels-per-day of heavy crude from Canada's oil sands to U.S.
refineries and ports along the Gulf of Mexico, via an existing pipeline
network in Nebraska.
Obama had rejected the pipeline saying it would do nothing to reduce
fuel prices for U.S. motorists and would contribute emissions linked to
TransCanada resubmitted its permit application after Trump's executive
order. Spokesman Terry Cunha said the company was working closely with
the State Department.
"Monday is the deadline, so that's what we're working towards," Cunha
Conservatives said they supported quick approval. Nick Loris, an energy
and environment researcher at the Heritage Foundation, said approval
would "reestablish some certainty and sanity to a permitting process
that was hijacked by political pandering."
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A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp's planned Keystone
XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, North Dakota, January 25, 2017.
Environmental groups said they had been prepared for the approval
and vowed Thursday to fight the pipeline at every turn with
petitions, political pressure and mass protests.
"The same communities who defeated this pipeline before - indigenous
leaders, landowners, farmers and grassroots activists - are ready to
fight again," said May Boeve, director of activist group 350.org.
Diana Best, a Greenpeace climate campaign specialist said, "We will
resist these projects with our allies across the country and across
A stretch of Keystone XL also awaits approval from Nebraska
regulators. Transcanada has to file its pipeline route plans with
the state's Public Service Commission, which is required to hold
public hearings on the proposal.
Keystone's construction costs could be higher than the $7 billion
estimated after it was first proposed, said Michael Wojciechowski,
vice president of Americas oil and refining markets research at Wood
"Final costs are still to be determined, but they have done nothing
but go up over time," he said.
Still, there could also be some savings on labor given recent
layoffs due to the recent oil price drop, he said.
(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici and Timothy Gardner in Washington,
and Ethan Lou in Calgary; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Cynthia
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