ReutersWASHINGTON (Reuters) — U.S. President Donald Trump signed orders on Tuesday smoothing the path for the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines in a move to expand energy infrastructure and roll back key Obama administration environmental actions.
Oil producers in Canada and North Dakota are expected to benefit from a quicker route for crude oil to U.S. Gulf Coast refiners. But going ahead with the pipelines would mark a bitter defeat for Native American tribes and climate activists, who successfully blocked the projects earlier and vowed to fight the decisions through legal action.
Trump campaigned on promises to increase domestic energy production. Before taking office he said the Dakota pipeline should be completed and that he would revive the $6.1 billion Keystone XL project, which was rejected in 2015 by then-President Barack Obama.
U.S. crude imports have fallen dramatically in recent years as domestic production has boomed, but the world’s largest oil consumer still relies heavily on imports.
Even though Canada is already the biggest source of U.S. crude imports, boosting the flow from a close ally is seen in Washington as a way to improve U.S. energy security.
“It goes to show we as a nation build infrastructure that is part of a comprehensive energy plan to make our energy secure,” Republican Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota told Reuters.
TransCanada Corp. said it would resubmit an application for a permit for Keystone XL after Trump signed an order saying the company could reapply. The application will be reviewed by the U.S. State Department, which has 60 days to reach a decision.
The orders look set to undo victories won by protesters in North Dakota against Energy Transfer Partners, which has nearly completed construction of the Dakota line. Despite the advanced phase of the project, the Obama administration in December denied the company a permit to tunnel under the Missouri River.Speech