Trump Revives Keystone XL Pipeline


President Donald Trump revived the possibility that the Keystone XL pipeline could be built across the central United States when he reversed the Obama administration’s rejection of the oil pipeline plan Tuesday (Jan. 24).

He also called for the reversal of a December 2016 decision from the Army Corps of Engineers stopping the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline under the Missouri River. But at the same time, Trump insisted that if these —or any new pipelines—are to come to fruition, they should be made of American-made steel.

The two moves came as part of a series of presidential memoranda and executive orders that Trump said aim to “reduce the burden of regulations and expedite high priority energy and infrastructure projects that will create jobs and increase national security.”

Presidential Memos

The series of actions:

  • Invite TransCanada, the Canadian energy company that planned the Keystone XL, to resubmit its application for a presidential permit to construct and operate the pipeline;
  • Ask the Secretary of the Army and the Army Corps of Engineers to review and approve as warranted the Dakota Access request to cross federal areas and to “consider, to the extent permitted by law and as warranted, whether to rescind or modify” the Dec. 4 memorandum stopping DAPL work;
  • Call for the development of a plan in which “all new pipelines, as well as retrofitted, repaired or extended pipelines, inside the borders of the United States,” use materials produced in the United States “to the maximum extent possible”;
  • Call on executive departments to develop plans to “reduce regulatory burdens for domestic manufacturing,” asking officials to determine what policies could be changed to encourage U.S. manufacturing activity; and
  • Call for the expedition of “high-priority infrastructure projects,” such as “improving the U.S. electric grid and telecommunications systems and repairing and upgrading critical port facilities, airports, pipelines, bridges, and highways.”

Keystone XL History

President Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL project in November 2015, ruling that the construction of the pipeline, from Alberta to the American Midwest, was not in the national interest of the United States.

Keystone pipeline map
Meclee, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Keystone XL (showin in green) would connect the Alberta oil sands with the American Midwest.

In 2016, TransCanada sued the U.S. government for $15 billion in damages stemming from the rejection of the pipeline, claiming unfair treatment.

Dakota Access

The Dakota Access Pipeline would stretch from the Bakken and Three Forks shale formations in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. DAPL is owned by Energy Transfer Partners, and much of it already built, but a stretch to be built under Lake Oahe, on the Missouri River, caused controversy last fall, leading to large protests at the nearby Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

DAPL route
Energy Transfer Partners

The Dakota Access Pipeline would stretch from the Bakken and Three Forks shale formations in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois.

The Army declared in December that it would not grant an easement for the pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe.

Pipeline Job Creation

President Trump said Tuesday (Jan. 24) that the Keystone XL, if built, would create 28,000 jobs. That claim is disputed by fact-checkers, and it’s unclear where the estimate originated.

Energy Transfer Partners has said that the construction of the DAPL has created about 12,000 jobs.


Tagged categories: Government; North America; Oil and Gas; Pipeline; President Trump; Program/Project Management; Regulations

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