WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced Friday that his administration has approved the Keystone XL pipeline, reversing the Obama administration’s decision to block the controversial oil project.
Speaking from the Oval Office, Trump officially announced the approval shortly after the State Department issued TransCanada’s permit, making good on one of his campaign promises.
The approval greenlights the Canadian company to complete construction on the pipeline that will funnel crude oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
“It’s a great day for jobs and energy independence,” Trump said, calling the pipeline “incredible” and “the greatest technology known to man or woman.”
Standing alongside his secretaries of energy and commerce, Trump vowed that the pipeline would be the “first of many” energy projects his administration will approve.
TransCanada CEO Russel Girling said he was “very relieved” to see the pipeline approved.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, recused himself from the decision earlier this month. Trump in January signed an executive order to advance the pipeline’s approval.
The approval follows years of intense debate over the pipeline amid hefty opposition from environmental groups, who argued that the pipeline supports the extraction of crude oil from oil sands, which pumps about 17 percent more greenhouse gases than standard crude oil extraction.
Environmentalists also opposed the pipeline because it would cut across the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the world’s largest underground deposits of fresh water.
The State Department concluded in January 2015 that the project would create about 42,000 jobs directly and indirectly, but just 3,900 construction jobs if it was built in one year. The pipeline would create 50 permanent jobs to maintain the pipeline.