The Trump administration on March 24, 2017, has issued a permit to go ahead and build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
The $8 billion project has been the subject of a years-long fight between environmental advocates and those who claim the pipeline will create much-needed new jobs.
We knew the approval was coming, since President Donald Trump signed memoranda to resurrect the stalled pipeline back in January.
Still, even with today’s permit, the pipeline’s exact route is controversial and the company running it, TransCanada, needs to get additional building permits in several states.
Keystone XL is supposed to carry oil from Canada to the border between Nebraska and Kansas, and then connect to the the Gulf Coast Pipeline.
Because it crosses the Canadian border, the project needs to be approved by the State Department.
However, 2 years ago the State Department conducted a review and said the pipeline should not go ahead. (Current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recused himself from today’s decision after protesters said his background indicated a conflict of interest.)
Environmental groups argue that pipelines are not safe because leaks are common and contribute to massive environmental damage.
In January, for example, a Canadian pipeline spilled 200,000 liters of oil in a First Nations community.
And a ProPublica report says that only 7 % of natural gas lines and 44 % of so-called hazardous liquid lines are regularly checked.
Oil advocates, on the other hand, say that the pipeline will create thousands of much-needed jobs for Americans and also boost the United States’ energy security.
But PolitiFact has rated these jobs numbers as false.
The pipeline will only create about 50 jobs in the long run, though it could create as many as 42,100 temporary jobs during construction.
One thing is for sure: this decision is consistent with Trump’s incoherent plans for the environment.
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