Friday morning, just as all signs started to point to the failure of the GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill, the Trump administration officially approved the federal permit for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline across the United States-Canada border. This reverses the decision of President Obama’s State Department, which had denied the permit after concluding that the project was not in the nation’s interest.
Despite his claim that the deal signaled that today is “a great day for American jobs,” the permit approval also reverses President Trump’s public pledge to only approve the pipeline if it were going to be built with American steel—and only 35 permanent positions in America will result from the deal.
For all his bluster, the Keystone XL boondoggle exposes Donald Trump for the failed businessman that he is.
Instead, TransCanada has received the permit to begin construction using the steel it has already contracted or purchased, which comes entirely from Canada and India. (And, recall, a good deal of that steel was manufactured by a Russian company owned in part by a Putin ally and Trump family friend.)
Trump, however, has continued to make the false claim that the pipe for Keystone XL will be “manufactured right here” in the United States, including on Monday night at his rally in Louisville, Kentucky.
After months of strong talk on how he’d renegotiate the Keystone XL “deal” with TransCanada, demanding that they use American steel and even at one point suggesting that the United States would grab “a piece of the profits” from the pipeline, it seems that President Trump lost on all counts. TransCanada didn’t move an inch and got the permit. It’s no coincidence that TransCanada dropped its North American Free Trade Agreement lawsuit less than an hour after the company received the permit to build.
“For all his bluster, the Keystone XL boondoggle exposes Donald Trump for the failed businessman that he is. TransCanada dropped this NAFTA lawsuit only after Donald Trump caved on his demand that Keystone XL will be built with American steel,” said Ilana Soloman, the Responsible Trade Program Director at the Sierra Club.
What’s next for the proposed 1,200-mile pipeline that will funnel heavy diluted bitumen from the Canadian tar sands down through six states to Gulf Coast refineries? It still requires at least one state permit, in Nebraska, where no route has yet been approved. And it might prove a tough sell to residents of the heartland, where many see the project as all risk and no reward, especially because the oil that runs through the Keystone XL is bound for export to Latin American and European markets.
Even President Obama warned that the pipeline was an export vessel for Canadian crude, saying in a November 2014 press conference:
After today’s permit approval, TransCanada is one step closer to having its route cleared to these foreign markets. But local opposition to the pipeline in Nebraska is fierce—epitomized in the Bold Nebraska alliance—and with no route currently approved, you can bet there’s a months-long battle ahead.