Since 2010, the construction of the Keystone Pipeline has been delayed entirely for political purposes. While the economy was still recovering from the 2007-09 financial/housing crisis, Obama saw it more important to pander to environmentalists than allow the private sector to create thousands of new jobs at a time when the economy needed it most. He never approved construction of the pipeline, and eventually blocked it entirely in 2015.
Pipelines, however, are among the safest way to transport oil, and the US already has 2.5 million miles of pipelines, which you can see the in chart below. Hazardous liquid lines are in red, gas transmission lines in blue.
Did anyone really think that a few thousand extra miles of pipeline would be the straw that broke the camel’s back? Apparently so, but that’s no longer the case, as approval for the beleaguered pipeline is expected by next week.
According to Politico:
The Trump administration will approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline by Monday, reversing one of former President Barack Obama’s most politically charged environmental decisions, according to two sources with knowledge of the plan.
The move by the State Department comes 16 months after Obama blocked construction of the 1,200-mile pipeline, which would ship crude from Canada’s western oil-sands region to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The pipeline became the subject of major lobbying efforts by both oil industry supporters and environmental groups, which turned the project into the focus of their climate change campaigns.
For political affairs Tom Shannon plans to sign the pipeline’s cross-border permit on or before Monday, the last day for the 60-day timeline that President Donald Trump ordered in January. Secretary of State and former Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson recused himself from the process. The approval, while long expected, will hand Trump a political victory and follows his promise to quickly approve the $8 billion project that developer TransCanada has sought to build for nearly a decade.
While the permit will eliminate a crucial barrier for the pipeline, other hurdles still remain, including winning approval for the project in Nebraska and winning over landowners there who have denied it the right of wayThe president and his administration also continue to struggle on another of his pipeline-related promises: Where the steel for the pipeline will come from. Trump as recently as this week continued to say that he would require TransCanada to use American-made steel to build the U.S.-side of the pipeline, despite the White House’s admission earlier this month that it would not hold Keystone XL to that standardTransCanada has said roughly half of the steel for Keystone XL will come from the U.S. That steel will come from Welspun Tubular in Arkansas, a subsidiary of India-based Welspun Group.
Regardless of the minor challenges to come, it’s about damn time the pipeline got approved. It’s just a shame it couldn’t have been when the economy needed the boost the most.
[Note: This post was written by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]