Trump admin approves Keystone XL pipeline

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon Jr on March 24 issued a presidential permit to TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, authorizing the Canadian company to construct, operate and maintain pipeline facilities at the US-Canadian border in Phillips County, Mont., for the importation of crude oil from Canada's tar sands. The Trump administration's State Department is headed by former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who backs the pipeline. However, Tillerson recused himself from the decision after environmental groups objected that it would be a conflict of interest for him to decide the pipeline's fate.

The State Department reviewed TransCanada's application in accordance with Executive Order 13337 of April 30, 2004, signed by President George W. Bush, and President Trump's Jan.y 24, 2017 Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The permit reverses then President Barack Obama's November 2015 decision to reject the pipeline. "America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change, and frankly, approving this project would have undercut that leadership," Obama said then.

"Today we begin to make things right," President Trump said after the State Department issued its order. "TransCanada will finally be allowed to complete this long-overdue project with efficiency and with speed."

The $8 billion project still faces litigation over the route brought by Native American tribes, landowners and environmental groups. "The Keystone XL pipeline is a disaster for people, wildlife and the planet," said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Trump administration is taking us dangerously off course by approving this dirty, dangerous pipeline. We don’t have four years to wait to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and avoid a climate catastrophe." (ENS, NYT, March 24)

  1. Massive oil spill as Keystone pipeline route approved

    TransCanada shut down its Keystone pipeline after it sprang a leak early Nov. 16 near the small community of Amherst in Marshall County, South Dakota. Some 210,000 gallons (5,000 barrels) fouled a field on a private farm. Just four days later, the Nebraska Public Service Commission ruled 3-2 to approve a route for the pipeline that is a slightly longer alternative path than TransCanada's preferred route. (ENS, Jurist)

  2. Judge orders environmental review for Keystone XL

    A US District Judge in Montana ruled Aug. 15 that the US State Department must conduct a more thorough environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline project, ordering the $8 billion project’s construction to come to an immediate halt. (Jurist)

  3. Native Americans file suit against Keystone XL pipeline

    Two Native American communities filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Montana on Sept. 11 charging President Trump's administration with violating the tribes' treaty rights by permitting TransCanada to build the Keystone XL Pipeline. The Fort Belknap Indian Community and Rosebud Sioux Tribe filed the suit, alleging Trump was precluded under the Administrative Procedure Act from granting the permit since the application was already reviewed and denied by the Department of State. The lawsuit also charges the administration with violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). (Jurist)

  4. Judge halts Keystone XL pipeline construction

    A federal judge in Montana on Nov. 8 granted a temporary injunction (PDF) bringing an immediate halt to the construction of the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline project. (Jurist)

  5. Judge allows preliminary work on Keystone pipeline

    Judge Brian Morris of the US District Court for the District of Montana said in a hearing on Nov. 28 that pre-construction activities may continue for the Keystone XL Pipeline. Morris originally ruled this month that construction on Keystone XL must be halted to allow for further studies to ensure environmental safety. (Jurist)

  6. Shenzhen labor activists formally arrested

    At least three well-known labor activists have been formally arrested in Shenzhen and charged with gathering a crowd to disturb public order (聚众扰乱社会秩序罪).

    The families and associates of Wu Guijun, Zhang Zhiru and He Yuancheng learnt of the charges seperately on Feb. 26 and 27, more than a month after they were detained in a coordinated police action late on the evening of Jan. 20. They are being held in a Shenzhen detention center and are understood to be in reasonable health.

    It is unclear at present exactly what incident the charges refer to because the authorities have told Wu and Zhang to decline the services of the lawyers hired by their families. In addition, family members have been harassed by the authorities and told not to talk to the media about the case. (China Labour Bulletin)