Trump issues new permit for stalled Keystone XL pipeline

The permit issued Friday replaces one granted in March 2017

Moving defiantly to kick-start the long-stalled Keystone XL oil pipeline, President Donald Trump on Friday issued a new presidential permit for the project — two years after he first approved it and more than a decade after it was first proposed.

Trump said the permit issued Friday replaces one granted in March 2017. The order is intended to speed up development of the controversial pipeline, which would ship crude oil from tar sands in western Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

A federal judge blocked the project in November, saying the Trump administration had not fully considered potential oil spills and other impacts. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ordered a new environmental review.

A White House spokesman said the new permit issued by Trump “dispels any uncertainty” about the project. “Specifically, this permit reinforces, as should have been clear all along, that the presidential permit is indeed an exercise of presidential authority that is not subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act,” the spokesman said.

READ MORE: U.S. government appeals ruling that blocked Keystone pipeline

READ MORE: U.S. judge blocks construction of $10-billion Keystone XL pipeline

But a lawyer for environmentalists who sued to stop the project called Trump’s action illegal. The lawyer, Stephan Volker, vowed to seek a court order blocking project developer TransCanada from moving forward with construction.

“By his action today in purporting to authorize construction” of the pipeline despite court rulings blocking it, “President Trump has launched a direct assault on our system of governance,” Volker said Friday in an email.

Trump’s attempt to “overturn our system of checks and balances is nothing less than an attack on our Constitution. It must be defeated,” Volker said.

Calgary-based TransCanada said in a statement that Trump’s order “clarifies the national importance of Keystone XL and aims to bring more than 10 years of environmental review to closure.”

Trump “has been clear that he wants to create jobs and advance U.S. energy security, and the Keystone XL pipeline does both of those things,” said Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and CEO.

WATCH: Alberta still pushing for Keystone XL pipeline after U.S. stoppage

Keystone XL will create thousands of jobs and deliver crude oil to U.S. refineries “in the safest, most efficient and environmentally sound way,” the company said. An appeal filed by the company is pending.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hailed Trump’s action, saying in a statement that “it shouldn’t take longer to approve a project than to build it.”

Keystone XL will boost U.S. economic and energy security interests, said Christopher Guith, acting president of the chamber’s Global Energy Institute. “Review after review has found it can be built and operated in an environmentally responsible way. It’s time to move forward,” Guith said.

Anthony Swift, director of the Canada project for the Natural Resources Defence Council, an environmental group, said the pipeline “was a bad idea from Day One and it remains a terrible idea. If built, it would threaten our land, our drinking water, and our communities from Montana and Nebraska to the Gulf Coast. And it would drive dangerous climate change.”

Trump “is once again showing his disdain for the rule of law,” Swift said, adding that the last time Trump “tried to ram this permit through he lost in court” and is likely to do so again.

Keystone XL, first proposed in 2008 under President George W. Bush, would begin in Alberta and go to Nebraska, where it would join with an existing pipeline to shuttle more than 800,000 barrels a day of crude to terminals on the Gulf Coast.

After years of study and delay, former President Barack Obama rejected the project in 2015. Trump reversed that decision soon after taking office in 2017, saying the $8 billion project would boost American energy and create jobs. A presidential permit is needed because the project crosses a U.S. border.

After environmental groups sued, Morris said the administration had not fully considered potential oil spills and other impacts and that further reviews were needed.

TransCanada disputes that, saying Keystone XL has been studied more than any other pipeline in history. “The environmental reviews are clear: the project can be built and operated in an environmentally sustainable and responsible way,” Girling said.

Associated Press writer Matthew Brown in Billings, Mont., contributed to this story.

Matthew Daly, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Nelson plans for Clearwater Creek as additional water source

Existing Selous and Anderson Creek sources to be upgraded

Two Nelson Police officers investigated for misconduct

The investigations were made public in an annual report

LETTER: Radical action needed on climate

From reader Brian Zacharias

Morrison wins Kootenay-Columbia for Conservative Party

Unofficial results peg 28,495 votes for Morrison with 98 per cent of polls reporting Monday evening

Raptors Bling: NBA champions receive their rings in pre-game ceremony

There are over 650 diamonds — at a weight of 14 carats — in the 14-karat yellow gold ring

Trudeau: Climate and pipeline are priorities after election

Newly re-elected Trudeau wants to build the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion quickly

‘Find Trevor’: B.C. man’s dog leads searchers to rescue him after fall during hike

‘I’ve had lots of intelligent dogs, but Purple is in a class herself’

15 Canadian youths to sue Ottawa for not acting on climate change

They say young people will be more affected than other groups

Faster response may have prevented fatal outcome at B.C. trampoline park

Coroner’s report rules Greater Victoria father Jay Greenwood’s death accidental

100-pound pumpkin stolen a second time from B.C. business

According to security footage, a man and woman took the pumpkin on Oct. 20 at 8:20 p.m.

Greta Thunberg declines invitation to Victoria due to time, not ferry emissions

Thunberg confirmed that she will be joining a climate strike at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Friday

Feds decriminalizing drugs possible if Jagmeet Singh pushes for it, expert says

National pharmacare was one of Singh’s most highly-touted platform policies

‘Havoc and chaos:’ Alberta separatist group gains support as Liberals re-elected

The idea is getting interest from people in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and parts of British Columbia

Most Read