Trump issues directive on Keystone XL
But Trump also threw new uncertainty into the process by insisting his administration intended to renegotiate some of the terms.
One order allows TransCanada to resubmit its application for the US federal approval for its 830,000 b/d pipeline, which would transport crude from Canadian oil sands into the US. President Barack Obama's administration in 2015 blocked Keystone XL, citing climate concerns. Trump directed the State Department — the US agency that clears cross-border oil and natural gas pipelines — to review TransCanada's resubmitted application and approve it if the pipeline is found to be in the US national interest.
"We are going to renegotiate some of the terms, and if they like, we will see if we can get that pipeline built," Trump said.
Trump had pledged to quickly approve Keystone XL if the US could get a "significant piece" of the profits from the pipeline, which led to some consternation among industry executives.
Trump in a separate order directed the US Army Corps of Engineers to "review and approve in an expedited manner" the 470,000 b/d Dakota Access pipeline, which would transport crude from Bakken fields in North Dakota to Illinois for delivery to the Gulf coast. Trump said his directive comes with the same caveat — "subject to terms and conditions to be negotiated by us."
The \\$3.8bn Dakota Access project is largely completed. The uncompleted part — a crossing at Lake Oahe in North Dakota — requires federal approval. The Obama administration last year directed a review of routes that might avoid passing close to Native American reservations.
One potential condition for approval of the projects is the use of US-produced pipes, based on a separate executive order from Trump. "If we build it in the United States, build the pipelines, we want to build the pipe," he said.
TransCanada yesterday said it was "fully committed" to the project. But it still needs to refile its application to build the pipeline and resolve other local permitting issues. The company said in 2012 that 50pc of pipes to be used in the US portion of Keystone XL was procured from a US manufacturer.
Trump also issued directives to streamline the approval process for domestic manufacturing and the environmental review of major pipeline and other infrastructure projects. "I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist, I believe in it," he said. "But it is out of control and we are going to make it a very short process."
Trump said his administration will process regulatory applications quickly. "We are going to either give you your permits or we are not going to give you your permits. But you are going to know very quickly. And generally speaking we are going to be giving you your permits."
Trump's directives revealed a strong partisan divide on oil pipelines.
"We cannot afford to build new oil pipelines that lock us into burning fossil fuels for years to come," senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) said. "I will do everything I can to stop these pipelines and protect our planet for future generations."
But House speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said that the projects "were used by special interests to advance their radical anti-energy agenda and were therefore needlessly halted by the last administration."
Industry officials also lauded the orders. "We thank President Trump for giving the American people the benefits of jobs and plentiful, affordable energy that pipelines will bring," industry group Association of Oil Pipe Lines chief executive Andrew Black said.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe said it would take legal action to overturn the Dakota Access order. "The existing pipeline route risks infringing on our treaty rights, contaminating our water and the water of 17mn Americans downstream," tribe chairman David Archambault said.