Dakota Access fight goes to Keystone XL


26 March, 2017

Donald Trump announced a "new era of American energy policy" as he signed the presidential permit allowing TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

Nebraska activists say the pipeline could leak and pollute their water supply, and argue that construction would disrupt the state's natural habitat.

"Moving forward exclusively on the basis of an objectively outdated environmental review on a pipeline that doesn't have a full route does pose a lot of problem for the legality of the approval", said Anthony Swift, an lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The Keystone XL pipeline is a big step toward correcting these problems, although there need to be many more.

Once completed, officials say, the 900-mile pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada into the USA, first through Montana and ending at refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. "We strongly urge you to reject the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline as a project that will contribute to climate change at a time when we should be doing all we can to put clean energy alternatives in place", read the letter signed by experts from Harvard University, Stanford University, McGill University and other top institutes through the USA and Canada. In January, for example, a Canadian pipeline spilled 200,000 liters of oil in a First Nations community.

"This is a victory for all of us who rely on oil to heat our homes, fuel our cars, and power our tractors, and pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to transport oil", Daugaard said in a statement.

The department did not update the environmental impact study for the pipeline, a process that could have taken years. Some analysts think only two of the three pipelines will get built.

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Nebraska requires residents to show a "substantial legal interest" in a project before they can intervene. Keystone will reduce costs and reliance on foreign oil while creating thousands of jobs, he said.

Signing several documents related to construction and infrastructure, Trump suggested that the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines would be made with US steel.

"These types of actions, these approvals, are really, I think, good examples of how this [Trump] administration is really interested in making special interests feel happy about furthering their agenda but not necessarily looking out for actually what would benefit the American people", Hartl said.

Under former President Barack Obama, the State Department conducted an assessment that found the $8 billion project would not lower gas prices for US consumers as its proponents claimed. "You should ask for the hundreds of millions of dollars back that you paid them because they didn't do a damn thing except get you a no vote", he said.

Demonstrators in front of the White House celebrate President Barack Obama's blocking of the Keystone XL oil pipeline on November 6, 2015.

"This critical infrastructure project has been studied longer than any pipeline project in USA history", said Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute. The Canadian oil that would flow through the pipeline is considered among the dirtiest types of crude.

TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha said the company recognizes that construction activities would occur on tribes' ancestral homelands.

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