Keystone XL Pipeline Gets US OK, With 'Unusual Twist'

Rex Tillerson had nothing to do with State Department signoff on controversial project
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2017 8:31 AM CDT
It's On: Keystone XL Pipeline Gets Official US Thumbs-Up
In this Nov. 3, 2015, file photo, the Keystone Steele City pumping station, into which the planned Keystone XL pipeline is to connect, is seen in Steele City, Neb.   (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

The Keystone XL pipeline is officially a go, at least as far as the feds are concerned. Two years after then-President Obama used his veto power to block construction of the TransCanada conduit, the AP reports that a State Department permit was issued Friday to begin construction into the US. The decision, which TransCanada is hailing as a "significant milestone," came after the department analyzed a variety of factors, including costs and how the pipeline would affect the environment. The State Department was in charge of OK'ing the $8 billion project because the 1,700-mile-long pipeline stretched from one country to the next, though the AP notes an "unusual twist": State Department employee Tom Shannon signed the presidential permit; Rex Tillerson had recused himself from dealing with the pipeline due to his Exxon Mobil ties.

TransCanada first applied for a permit in 2008, but the project has dragged for nearly a decade due to pushback from environmental groups and Native American tribes who say the pipeline would plow through sacred lands and endanger water supplies. Supporters, however, say construction would create thousands of jobs: TransCanada says as many as 13,000, the State Department a bit less, and President Trump as many as 28,000, in what the Washington Post calls "an inflated estimate." Reuters notes Monday was the end of the 60-day deadline on Trump's executive order to get this pipeline going. TransCanada still needs to get Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska to sign off on the project, which Politico notes could take months more for Nebraska alone. Forbes offers the ins and outs of the pipeline for those who've lost track of where things currently stand. (More TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline stories.)

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