State Department to approve Keystone pipeline permit on Friday: sources

Thu Mar 23, 2017 5:46pm EDT
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By Valerie Volcovici and Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department plans to approve on Friday 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 two government sources familiar with the process.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the administration would provide an update on Keystone on Friday but did not offer any details.

Two government sources, who declined to be identified, said on Thursday that the pipeline approval would be announced by the White House.

One of the sources said the State Department was working to get the approval completed before Monday, the end of the 60-day timeline under Trump's January executive order for the construction of Keystone and the Dakota Access pipelines.

The move would mark the beginning of a process that could be lengthy. Approvals are needed from state regulators, and the project could face legal challenges.

But Republican President Donald Trump supports Keystone and, days after he took office in January, ordered its construction. That could mean the project, proposed in 2008, will eventually be completed.

The State Department's undersecretary for political affairs, Tom Shannon, is expected approve the cross-border permit for TransCanada Corp's pipeline since Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, recused himself from the matter.

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.   Continued...

A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp's planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, North Dakota, January 25, 2017.  REUTERS/Terray Sylvester