BILLINGS, Mont. — The Trump administration on Wednesday approved a right-of-way allowing the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline to be built across U.S. land, federal officials told The Associated Press, pushing the controversial $8 billion project closer to construction though court challenges still loom.
The approval Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed covers 46 miles of the line’s route across Montana land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said Casey Hammond, Interior assistant secretary.
The 1,200-mile pipeline would transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from western Canada to terminals on the Gulf Coast. Project sponsor TC Energy said in a court filing that it wants to begin construction in the next several months, but that’s sure to face more legal challenges.
First proposed in 2008, the pipeline has become emblematic of the struggle between economic development and curbing the fossil fuel emissions that are causing climate change. The Obama administration rejected it, but President Donald Trump revived it and has been a strong supporter.
The stretch approved Wednesday includes all federal land crossed by the line, Hammond said. Much of the rest of the route is across private land, for which TC Energy has been trying to get permissions to build on. Opponents worry burning the tar sands oil will make climate change worse, and that the pipeline could break and spill oil into waterways.