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Donald Trump's Plan to Construct the Keystone XL Pipeline

President Trump signed a memorandum urging TransCanada to resubmit its application to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline. The U.S. Secretary of State could unilaterally approve the pipeline’s permit.

  • The pipeline would cross 1,073 waterways, and threaten sources of fresh drinking water in eight states
  • Crude oil extracted from the Alberta sands sinks in water, and the pipeline’s spill detection system would only be triggered after 12,000 barrel per day were spilled
  • 147 to 168 million metric tons carbon emissions per year facilitated by Keystone XL would undermine efforts to stifle rising temperatures
  • The pipeline would only create 35 permanent jobs, and would raise gas prices in the Midwest

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President Trump Facilitated Resuming Construction On The Keystone XL Pipeline

President Trump Signed An Executive Action Intended To Advance The Construction Of The Keystone xL Pipeline

President Trump Signed An Executive Action Intended To Advance The Construction Of The Keystone XL Pipeline. According to the New York Daily News, “President Trump signed two executive actions Tuesday that will advance construction of the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. […] Trump’s executive actions make good on campaign promises to help move the pipelines forward and adhere to his oft-stated desire to ease, or eliminate altogether, regulations, including ones pertaining to the environment, to help spur economic growth.” [New York Daily News, 1/24/17]

The Memorandum Urged TransCanada To Resubmit Its Application For The Pipeline, Which Could Be Approved By The U.S. Secretary Of State

President Trump Invited TransCanada To Resubmit Its Application For A Permit To Construct And Operate The Keystone XL Pipeline. According to a presidential memorandum signed by President Donald Trump, “I hereby invite TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. (TransCanada), to promptly re-submit its application to the Department of State for a Presidential permit for the construction and operation of the Keystone XL Pipeline, a major pipeline for the importation of petroleum from Canada to the United States.” [White House, 1/24/17]

  • Trump Directed That The U.S. Secretary Of State Make A Final Permitting Determination Within 60 Days Of TransCanada’s Application. According to a presidential memorandum signed by President Donald Trump, “The Secretary of State shall reach a final permitting determination, including a final decision as to any conditions on issuance of the permit that are necessary or appropriate to serve the national interest, within 60 days of TransCanada’s submission of the permit application.” [White House, 1/24/17]

Trump Said His Administration Would “Renegotiate Some Of The Terms” Of The Keystone XL Pipeline. According to a tweet by Toronto Star correspondent Daniel Dale, “Trump on Keystone: ‘We’re going to renegotiate some of the terms, and if they’d like, we’ll see if we can get that pipeline built.’” [Daniel Dale – Twitter, 1/24/17]

Trump Intended To Expedite The Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Process By Using Obama Administration Environmental Reviews And Allowing The Secretary Of State To Approve TransCanada’s Permit Application Unilaterally

Trump Directed The U.S. Secretary Of State To Use The State Department’s January 2014 Environmental Impact Statement To Satisfy Requirements Under The National Environmental Policy Act And The Endangered Species Act. According to a presidential memorandum signed by President Donald Trump, “To the maximum extent permitted by law, the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement issued by the Department of State in January 2014 regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline (Final Supplemental EIS) and the environmental analysis, consultation, and review described in that document (including appendices) shall be considered by the Secretary of State to satisfy the following with respect to the Keystone XL Pipeline as described in TransCanada’s permit application to the Department of State of May 4, 2012 […] all applicable requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 […] any other provision of law that requires executive department consultation or review (including the consultation or review required under section 7(a) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973” [White House, 1/24/17]

  • Allowing The State Department To Use Environmental Reviews Conducted Under The Obama Administration Could Quicken The Pace Of Permit Approval. According to Platts, “To quicken the pace of the permit approval, Trump’s order allows State to use environmental reviews conducted during the Obama administration of the project to cover National Environmental Policy Act, and other, federal review requirements.” [Platts, 1/24/17]

Trump Directed That Any Federal Permit Or Authorization For The Keystone XL Pipeline Issued Prior To The Memorandum Remain In Effect Until The Project’s Completion “To The Maximum Extent Permitted By Law.” According to a presidential memorandum signed by President Donald Trump, “To the maximum extent permitted by law, any Federal permit or authorization issued before the date of this memorandum for the Keystone XL Pipeline shall remain in effect until the completion of the project.” [White House, 1/24/17]

Trump Waived A Requirement Under George W. Bush’s Executive Order 13337 That Other Cabinet Members, Along With The EPA Administrator, Be Consulted For The Issuance Of Cross-Border Permits. According to a presidential memorandum signed by President Donald Trump, “The agency notification and fifteen-day delay requirements of sections 1(g), 1(h), and 1(i) of Executive Order 13337 are hereby waived on the basis that, under the circumstances, observance of these requirements would be unnecessary, unwarranted, and a waste of resources.” According to Executive Order 13337, signed by President George W. Bush, “Issuance of Permits With Respect to Certain Energy-Related Facilities and Land Transportation Crossings on the International Boundaries of the United States […] Refer the application and pertinent information to, and request the views of, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency” [White House, 1/24/17; 4/30/04]

The Keystone XL Pipeline Would Endanger Surrounding Areas For Little Economic Benefit

The Pipeline Would Transport Crude Oil Through Vulnerable Areas

The Keystone XL Pipeline Was Designed To Export 1.1 Million Barrels Of Canadian Crude Oil Per Day. According to The New York Times, “A much longer pipeline to Texas, called Keystone XL, is still under federal review. If fully developed as proposed, the system would allow Canada to export an additional 1.1 million barrels of oil a day.” [The New York Times, 5/18/10]

A Keystone XL Spill Could Contaminate The Ogallala Aquifer, Which Stretches From Texas To South Dakota. According to Bloomberg, “Advisers to Donald Trump are exploring ways he can green light the Keystone XL oil pipeline on the day he is sworn into office, including by rescinding a 48-year-old presidential order. […] Landowners in the pipeline’s path warned that a spill of dense oil sands crude could contaminate the Ogallala aquifer, a source of drinking water that stretches from Texas to South Dakota.” [Bloomberg, 11/23/16]

  • The Ogallala Aquifer Provided Fresh Water For Eight States. According to Congressional Quarterly, “Opponents highlight environmental concerns regarding oil sands and the pipeline, and they argue that it won’t provide any meaningful economic benefit to the United States. […] Opponents also argue that the proposed route for the pipeline carries its own high risks. Although the revised route avoids the Sand Hills region of Nebraska, they note, it still crosses over the critical Ogallala aquifer, which provides fresh water for eight states, and they say the type of oil to be transported by the pipeline is particularly threatening.” [Congressional Quarterly, 5/20/13]
  • The Crude Extracted From The Alberta Oil Sands Would Sink In Water. According to Congressional Quarterly, “Specifically, the crude extracted from the Alberta oil sands is a heavy, black, viscous oil that is expected to be blended with other toxic hydrocarbons for pipeline transport and which sinks in water. Pointing to recent pipeline spills of a similar crude, in Michigan in 2010 and in Arkansas this year, opponents say a spill into the Ogallala aquifer could be environmentally and economically devastating to local communities and nearly impossible to clean up.” [Congressional Quarterly, 5/20/13]

The Keystone XL Pipeline Was Expected To Cross 1,073 Rivers, Lakes, And Streams In Montana, South Dakota, And Nebraska. According to an opinion by Natural Resources Defense Council Canada Project director Anthony Swift for the National Resources Defense Council, “Contrary to industry claims that the project would be a jobs creator of national importance, the company that sought to build the Keystone XL—TransCanada—told the U.S. State Department the pipeline would only create 35 jobs after it is built. […] The real jobs on the line here are those supported by the ranches and farms—110,000 of them—that produced $41.6 billion worth of food in 2012 in the three states where the tar sands pipeline construction would be focused—Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. […] In those three states, the pipeline would cross 1,073 rivers, lakes and streams—from the Yellowstone River in Montana to the Platte River in Nebraska—along with tens of thousands of acres of wetlands, including those in the famed Prairie Pothole Region that makes up 10 percent of the waterfowl breeding habitat in the Continental United States.” [Anthony Swift – Natural Resources Defense Council, 1/23/17]

  • The Keystone XL Pipeline Was Expected To Run Within A Mile Of More Than 3,000 Wells. According to an opinion by Natural Resources Defense Council Canada Project director Anthony Swift for the National Resources Defense Council, “In those three states, the pipeline would cross 1,073 rivers, lakes and streams—from the Yellowstone River in Montana to the Platte River in Nebraska—along with tens of thousands of acres of wetlands, including those in the famed Prairie Pothole Region that makes up 10 percent of the waterfowl breeding habitat in the Continental United States. It would run within a mile of more than 3,000 wells that provide drinking and irrigation water in those states.” [Anthony Swift – Natural Resources Defense Council, 1/23/17]

Keystone XL’s Internal Spill-Detection System Would Only Be Triggered After More Than 12,000 Barrels Of Crude Per Day Were Spilled

The Keystone XL Pipeline Would Need To Be Spilling More Than 12,000 Barrels Of Crude Per Day Before Its Internal Spill-Detection System Would Be Triggered. According to Bloomberg, “Keystone XL would have to be spilling more than 12,000 barrels a day — or 1.5 percent of its 830,000 barrel capacity – – before its currently planned internal spill-detection systems would trigger an alarm, according to the U.S. State Department, which is reviewing the proposal.” [Bloomberg, 6/18/13]

Emissions From The Crude Transported By Keystone XL Would Result In A Spike In Carbon Emissions, And Would Threaten Efforts To Minimize Climate Change

The Crude Oil Transported By The Keystone XL Pipeline Would Create 147 To 168 Million Metric Tons Of Carbon Emissions Per Year. According to the executive summary of the U.S. State Department Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL Project, “The total lifecycle emissions associated with production, refining, and combustion of 830,000 bpd of oil sands crude oil transported through the proposed Project is approximately 147 to 168 MMTCO2e per year.” [Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs – U.S. State Department, January 2014]

If The Keystone XL Pipeline And Other Expansion Projects Were To Be Built, Emissions From Canadian Oil Would Exhaust 16% Of The World’s Total Carbon Budget Under Plans To Keep The World’s Temperature Rise Under 1.5 Degrees Celsius. According to a report by Oil Change International, “Additional new pipelines still on the table are TransCanada’s Energy East, a potentially revived Keystone XL, and Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper, Line 2, Line 4 and Line 65 projects. […]Our key findings are that if tar sands expansion proceeds: […] Emissions from Canadian oil would exhaust 16% of the world’s total carbon budget for staying below 1.5°C, or 7% of the 2°C budget.” [Oil Change International, January 2017]

The Pipeline Would Only Create 35 Permanent Jobs, And Would Raise Gas Prices In THe Midwest By At Least 20 Cents

According To The U.S. State Department, The Keystone Pipeline Would Only Create 35 Permanent Jobs. According to the executive summary of the U.S. State Department Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL Project, “Once the proposed Project enters service, operations would require approximately 50 total employees in the United States: 35 permanent employees and 15 temporary contractors. This small number would result in negligible impacts on population, housing, and public services in the proposed Project area.” [Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs – U.S. State Department, January 2014]

Consumer Watchdog Reported That The Keystone XL Pipeline Would Raise Gasoline Prices By 25 To 40 Cents Per Gallon In The Midwest. According to Consumer Watchdog, “Consumer Watchdog investigated the impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline on gasoline prices and consumers. […] Midwest drivers would be hardest hit because the region currently imports more than half of its oil for refining from Canada. Increases at the pump could range from 25 cents to 40 cents a gallon, depending on how regional refineries respond to paying $20 to $30 more per 42-gallon barrel for Canadian crude oil.” [Consumer Watchdog, 7/16/13]