U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Long Overdue, President Trump Moves Keystone XL and Dakota Access Forward

By Matthew Koch

Yesterday, on day five of the new Administration, President Trump took steps to fulfill a campaign promise to create jobs and expand the development and use of American energy.  With the stroke of a pen, the President signed Executive actions that set in motion the steps and process needed to expeditiously approve the Keystone XL (KXL) and Dakota Access (DAPL) pipelines.

These actions mark a major change in direction from the politicized processes and unfair decision making on pipeline infrastructure experienced during the Obama Administration. 

You may remember that President Obama’s own State Department determined that building KXL would have no significant environmental impact, would create at least 42,000 jobs throughout America, and bring significant long term tax revenue and growth to communities along the pipeline route.  KXL would safely bring much-needed crude oil from Canada and the Bakken region of the U.S. to refiners for American consumers. After nine unprecedented years of scrutiny, President Obama’s decision to reject KXL was undertaken to send a message before the international climate policy negotiations in Paris.

The action signed by President Trump yesterday on Keystone XL invites the pipeline’s owner, TransCanada, to re-submit an application to the Department of State.  Trump’s action requires the Secretary of State to make necessary decisions on whether to issue a permit and determine whether the project is in the national interest within 60 days of receiving an application.  In addition, it accepts that the Final Supplemental Environment Impact Statement for KXL previously issued by the State Department satisfies environmental review and agency consultation requirements. It also instructs the Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corp) and the Department of Interior to take all steps necessary to review and approve, as warranted, any permit requirements under their authority in an expedited manner. 

Taken together, these actions will ensure that KXL receives a decision in a reasonable amount of time, and does not have to start over at the beginning of a lengthy environmental review process.  Given that KXL is probably the single most studied piece of infrastructure in history, this is entirely appropriate. 

DAPL is a 1,100 mile project which would transport oil from North Dakota to Illinois so it can be sent throughout the country using our vast infrastructure network.  It was 87% complete and only in need of a final easement from the Army Corps for construction under a section of the Missouri River before being targeted by the “keep it in the ground” movement. This group politicized the project and called on the Army Corps to consider issues far outside its purview and authority under law.  As we have seen time and time again, President Obama gave in to environmental activists and stopped the project in September. Two days before Trump’s Inauguration, President Obama made a final political move by announcing that the Army Corps was initiating an extensive and lengthy environmental review for DAPL that was not required under law. The memorandum issued by President Trump on DAPL calls on the Army Corps to review and approve in an expedited manner, and to the extent permitted by law and as warranted, requests for approvals to construct and operate DAPL, including easements or rights of way under their authority. It considers prior environmental reviews as satisfying all applicable requirements under law and also asks the Army Corp whether to rescind or withdraw the Obama Administration’s recent notice initiating a new expansive environmental review.

These actions would essentially reverse the decision by the Obama Administration to undertake another lengthy environmental review process, which was driven by the President’s choice to bow to pressure from fringe groups.

All of this is great news for the American people. President Trump has signaled a commitment to American energy by demonstrating he is serious about removing barriers to building needed infrastructure and by putting Americans and our energy abundance to work to benefit our entire nation.  

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