TransCanada Corp. has taken U.S. President Donald Trump up on his invitation and has formally submitted a new application to the U.S. Department of State for its Keystone XL pipeline.
“This privately funded infrastructure project will help meet America’s growing energy needs as well as create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs and generate substantial economic benefit throughout the U.S. and Canada,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive, said in a news release announcing the application late Thursday.
In a message seemingly tailored to the Trump Administration’s focus on U.S. paramountcy, Mr. Girling also said the $8-billion (U.S.) pipeline project will strengthen U.S. energy security, support tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs, and contribute approximately $3.4-billion to U.S. GDP.
He noted that TransCanada employees live in 38 U.S. states where the Calgary-based firm operates, and the company is committed to working productively with stakeholders and tribal leaders.
“The project is an important new piece of modern U.S. infrastructure that secures access to an abundant energy resource produced by a neighbour that shares a commitment to a clean and healthy environment,” Mr. Girling said.
On Wednesday, Mr. Girling told an audience at the CIBC Whistler Institutional Investor Conference that the company has only just re-engaged with potential shippers to see if they’re still interested in committing to the project. Keystone XL was first envisioned in 2008, a time when crude oil prices topped $100 (U.S.) a barrel, and before Canadian oil producers faced intense competition from U.S. shale.
Keystone XL would stretch 1,897 kilometres from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb., and would add massive new transport capacity for moving western North American oil – primarily heavy crude from the oil sands but also lighter liquids from the Bakken region.
Former U.S. president Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL project in 2015, citing U.S. climate change goals in his rationale. The project has been vehemently opposed by U.S. environmental groups, as well as some indigenous communities and landowners.
But earlier this week, Mr. Trump issued a memorandum inviting TransCanada to promptly re-submit its application for the Keystone XL project to the Department of State. His directive asked that the U.S. agency make a decision on a new TransCanada application within 60 days of receiving it – meaning a new decision will now come by the end of March.
Mr. Trump ordered the State Department to use work from the previous application, including the Environmental Impact Statement, to the extent possible in order to expedite the review.
Washington environmental lawyer James Rubin, of Dorsey & Whitney LLP, said he expects groups opposing the project to challenge that process in the courts but added the administration has wide latitude to interpret the rules that were originally put in place by executive order.