Trump approves Keystone XL, rolls back environmental regulation

By Patrick C. Miller | March 29, 2017

President Donald Trump continued deliver on his energy-related campaign pledges by approving the Keystone XL pipeline last Friday and this week rolling back the Obama administration’s Clean Power Program.

TransCanada Corp. received a presidential permit from the U.S. Department of State to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline, which runs from Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska. The 36-inch pipeline will transport 830,000 barrels per day of oil extracted from Canadian tar sands, enabling it to reach refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

After the Keystone XL permit had been under State Department review for nearly seven years, President Barack Obama rejected it November 2015, saying that the project wouldn’t lower gasoline prices in the U.S. and would contribute to climate change. Trump campaigned on the promise that his administration would approve the pipeline and other energy infrastructure projects.

“It’s a great day for American jobs and a historic moment for North American and energy independence,” the president said during a ceremony at the White House. “This announcement is part of a new era of American energy policy that will lower costs for American families—and very significantly—reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create thousands of jobs right here in America.”

Russ Girling, TransCanada president and CEO, called approval of the Keystone XL project a significant milestone.

"We greatly appreciate President Trump's administration for reviewing and approving this important initiative and we look forward to working with them as we continue to invest in and strengthen North America's energy infrastructure," he said.

The pipeline might also transport crude from U.S. shale in North Dakota and Montana, according to Terry Cunha, a TransCanada senior communications manager.

“In regards to the Bakken oil, subject to commercial demand, Keystone XL will transport domestic U.S. crude oil production from the Bakken supply basin in Montana and North Dakota, to refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast region. Those discussions with our customers are ongoing,” he said.

On Tuesday, Trump held a ceremony at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters to sign the Energy Independence Executive Order that begins the process of reviewing federal regulations and rolling back the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan which committed the U.S. to reducing carbon emissions to combat climate change.

The order says federal agencies are to suspend, revise or rescind regulations that “unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources beyond the degree necessary to protect the public interest or otherwise comply with the law.”

Trump said, “The action I'm taking today will eliminate federal overreach, restore economic freedom, and allow our companies and our workers to thrive, compete and succeed on a level playing field for the first time in a long time.”

Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who attended the ceremony, said, “Despite the actions by the previous administration over the past eight years, our domestic energy industry has continued to grow. Now, with a pro-job, pro-energy president in the driver seat, we’re about to see what our country can really accomplish from a job-growth, wage-growth, and economic-growth perspective.”

Cramer said that as a result of the executive order, regulations reviewed and rescinded would include the EPA’s and Bureau of Land Management’s methane rules; the federal coal lease moratorium; directives from the Council on Environmental Quality on the social cost of carbon; guidance on factoring climate change into National Environmental Policy Act reviews; and rescinding Obama administration executive orders, memoranda and guidance related to climate change.