Trump greenlights Keystone XL pipeline, but other obstacles loom

Controversial project lauded by oil companies, criticized by environmental groups

Kevin Lamarque—Reuters
After announcing a permit for TransCanada's Keystone XL oil pipeline

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump’s administration approved TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, cheering the oil industry and angering environmentalists who had sought for years to block it.The approval reverses a decision by former President Barack Obama to reject the project, but fresh obstacles loom: To get built, TransCanada will need to win financing, acquire local permits and fend off likely legal challenges.”It’s not done yet,” said Michael Wojciechowski, vice president of Americas, oil and refining markets research at consultancy Wood Mackenzie.Trump announced the presidential permit for Keystone XL at an event at the White House attended by TransCanada CEO Russell Girling and Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions.”TransCanada will now be able to complete this long overdue pipeline with efficiency and speed,” Trump said, saying the decision was “part of a new era in America” to lower consumer fuel prices, create jobs and achieve energy independence.TransCanada’s U.S.-listed shares rose 0.77 percent to $46.62, after having surged as much as 7 percent in premarket trading.The pipeline linking Canadian oil sands to U.S. refiners had been blocked for years by Obama, who said it would do nothing to reduce fuel prices for U.S. motorists and would contribute to emissions linked to global warming.Trump, however, campaigned on a promise to approve it, saying it would create thousands of jobs and help the oil industry. He signed an executive order soon after taking office in January to advance the project.Trump has claimed the project would create 28,000 jobs in the United States. But a 2014 State Department study predicted just 3,900 construction jobs and 35 permanent jobs.The White House has said the pipeline is exempt from a Trump executive order requiring new pipelines to be made from U.S. steel, because much of the pipe for the project has already been built and stockpiled.Environmental groups vowed to fight it. Greenpeace said it would pressure banks to withhold financing for the multi-billion dollar project, and others said they would fight the pipeline in court.”We’ll use every tool in the kit,” said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.