Nearly ten years after pipeline company TransCanada first applied for a State Department permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, the Trump administration has reversed the previous administration's decision and signed off on the "disastrous" project.
"The Keystone XL pipeline is a disaster for people, wildlife, and the planet," said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. "Donald Trump only cares about making his special interest pals richer even though our children will inherit a world ravaged by climate change. We will use every tool we have to fight this pipeline from the courts to the streets."
"It's as if the Trump administration is determined to go down as the most irrational and destructive presidential administration in history."
—Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice
The State Department's pipeline permit was announced Friday morning by under secretary of political affairs Tom Shannon, after reports of the pending decision came out late Thursday.
Secretary of State and former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson recused himself from the decision because of conflicts of interest.
"This is the latest in a string of decisions where the Trump administration is ignoring facts, public opinion and the law," said Earthjustice vice president of Litigation for Climate and Energy Abigail Dillen. "As Arctic sea ice reaches its lowest level ever and rising seas flood Miami, we need to put the brakes on dirty fossil fuel projects and invest in clean energy. Instead, the current administration is trying to fast-track the Keystone XL pipeline—a literal pipe dream—and de-fund our clean energy investments."
"This decision defies all logic, not to mention the wishes of 75 percent of Americans who want our leaders to regulate climate pollution. In combination with all of their recent missteps, it's as if the Trump administration is determined to go down as the most irrational and destructive presidential administration in history," Dillen continued.
An obsolete pipeline. Only 35 permanent jobs. Pumping oil overseas. Environmental catastrophe waiting to happen. Making America Great Again. https://t.co/w0lphQoR12
— Dr. Adrienne Keene (@NativeApprops) March 24, 2017
Indeed, environmental groups are dismayed and outraged, and mounting a renewed opposition to the project.
"It's a huge setback for the climate, but it's not game over yet," said Food & Water Watch director Wenonah Hauter. "We will support any and all avenues pursued by allies to prevent this dangerous pipeline from being built. And we will continue to resist Trump's pro-polluter agenda at every turn, while working hard to make real progress against the harms of fossil fuels in communities big and small throughout the country."
— Maria Langholz (@MariaLangholz) March 24, 2017
Importantly, the pipeline route through Nebraska still has yet to be approved by the state's Public Service Commission (PSC). The agency is currently taking public comments before it decides on approval for the pipeline's route through delicate wetlands, waterways, and farms (pdf). The groups Bold Nebraska and the Sierra Club are already organizing opposition to convince the state government to block the disastrous pipeline.
On the national stage, environmentalists are urging pipeline opponents to channel their outrage into action, and take to the streets for the People's Climate March on April 29:
— Jamie Henn (@Agent350) March 24, 2017