Politico: US State Dept To Approve Keystone Pipeline Permit
WASHINGTON, March 23 (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department will approve by Monday the permit needed to proceed with construction of the Canada-to-United States Keystone XL oil pipeline, a project blocked by former President Barack Obama, according to Politico.
The approval of the permit would mark the beginning of process that could be lengthy and complicated by approvals needed by state regulators and legal challenges.
But President Donald Trump, a Republican, supports Keystone and days after he took office in January ordered its construction. That could mean that project, first proposed in 2008, will eventually be completed.
The State Department's undersecretary for political affairs, Tom Shannon, will approve the cross-border permit for TransCanada Corp's pipeline on or before Monday, the report said.
Monday is end of the 60-day timeline that Trump ordered in January when he issued an executive order for the construction of Keystone and the Dakota Access pipelines.
The multi-billion dollar Keystone pipeline would bring more than 800,000 barrels-per-day of heavy crude from Canada's oil sands to U.S. refineries and ports along the Gulf of Mexico, via an existing pipeline network in Nebraska.
Obama had rejected the pipeline saying it would do nothing to reduce fuel prices for U.S. motorists and would contribute emissions linked to global warming.
TransCanada resubmitted its permit application after Trump's executive order. Spokesman Terry Cunha said the company was working closely with the State Department.
"Monday is the deadline, so that's what we're working towards," Cunha said.
A State Department official said there was no decision to announce on Keystone. A White House official did not immediately comment.
Conservatives said they supported quick approval. Nick Loris, an energy and environment researcher at the Heritage Foundation, said approval would "reestablish some certainty and sanity to a permitting process that was hijacked by political pandering."
Environmental group Greenpeace had pushed for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to recuse himself from a decision on Keystone, as Exxon Mobil Corp, the company Tillerson recently headed, could profit from the pipeline. Tillerson did recuse himself.
"We will resist these projects with our allies across the country and across borders, and we will continue to build the future the world wants to see," Diana Best, a Greenpeace climate campaign specialist said.
A stretch of Keystone XL also awaits approval from Nebraska regulators. Transcanada has to file its pipeline route plans with the state's Public Service Commission, which is required to hold public hearings on the proposal.
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