Good evening – A few hours ago President Trump issued a new presidential permit authorizing construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline. The new permit supersedes a March 2017 permit, which has been tied up in a legal challenge since last August.
The key difference between today’s permit and the one issued in March 2017 is the omission of language related to a 2014 Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) conducted by the Obama administration.
Despite years of intensive study, a federal judge in Montana halted construction of the pipeline last fall and ordered the State Department to take a closer look at the project’s climate impacts. A previous assessment of greenhouse gas emissions and market impacts outlined in the 2014 Final EIS was insufficient the judge said.
The revised language in the new presidential permit appears intended to shield the project from this type of judicial activism by suggesting NEPA is not applicable to the permit.
Article 1. Section 2
New: “The construction, connection, operation, and maintenance of the Facilities (not including the route) shall be, in all material respects and as consistent with applicable law, as described in the permittee’s application for a Presidential permit filed on May 4, 2012, and resubmitted on January 26, 2017.”
Old: “The construction, operation, and maintenance of the United States facilities shall be in all material respects as described in the permittee’s application for a Presidential permit under Executive Order 13337, filed on May 4, 2012 and resubmitted on January 26, 2017, the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) dated January 31, 2014 including all Appendices as supplemented, and any Construction, Mitigation, and Reclamation Plan (SRP), and other mitigation and control plans that are already approved or that are approved in the future by the Department of State or other relevant federal agencies. In the event of any discrepancy among these documents, construction, connection, operation and maintenance of the United States facilities shall be in all material respects as described in the most recent approved document unless otherwise determined by the Department of State.” (Emphasis added)
New: “The permittee shall provide written notice to the President or his designee at the time that the construction authorized by this permit begins, at such time as such construction is completed, interrupted, or discontinued, and at other times as may be requested by the President.”
Old: “The permittee shall take all necessary measures to prevent or mitigate adverse impacts on or disruption of the human environment in connection with the construction, connection, operation, and maintenance of the United States facilities. Such measures will include the actions and obligations agreed to by permittee in the CMRP and other mitigation, control plans, and special conditions found in the Final SEIS, including all Appendices as supplemented, all of which are appended to and made part of this permit, or that are approved in the future by the Department or other relevant federal or state agencies, and any other measures deemed by the permittee.”
Below is a statement you can attribute to me, Craig Stevens, spokesman for the GAIN Coalition:
“GAIN applauds President Trump for today’s order that prioritizes our country’s energy infrastructure. Pipelines remain the safest, most environmentally conscientious way to transport the energy our country needs. They are carefully regulated by federal, state, and local officials, and undergo a rigorous permitting and approval process. Today’s presidential permit is an important step in streamlining development of Keystone XL and helps ensure regulatory certainty for pipeline development. Starting with his Presidential Memorandum on Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines issued in January 2017, President Trump continues to make expediting safe, responsible energy infrastructure a priority. The GAIN Coalition looks forward to continued investment in America’s energy infrastructure and its strong contributions to the U.S. economy.”