The Trump administration has announced its intention to reverse Barack Obama’s Keystone XL pipeline decision by March 27, according to a report by Politico. Obama blocked construction of the controversial pipeline 16 months ago, a move hailed by environmentalists and slammed by the oil industry. This should come as no surprise, given that one of Donald Trump’s campaign promises was to push through both Keystone XL and the renewed Dakota Access Pipeline project.
The pipeline’s cross-border permit will be signed by Tom Shannon, undersecretary for political affairs. Due to his personal connections with the industry as former CEO of Exxon Mobil, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has recused himself from the process. This will be the end result of a decade-long fight on the part of developer TransCanada to build the $8 billion project.
If construction is completed, the pipeline could potentially result in catastrophic oil spills that could pollute drinking water and destroy ecosystems. But even more worrying is the amount of CO2 the project could produce by triggering development in Alberta’s oil sands. At a time when climate change is accelerating rapidly, the last thing we need is to promote projects that will pump huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.
This isn’t the end of the road for anti-Keystone protesters. Though the project has won cross-border approval, it still needs to receive approval from the state of Nebraska and a small number of landowners who have refused to yield the right of way. The Nebraska decision isn’t expected until September.