WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bloomberg News is reporting that US President-elect Donald Trump’s advisors are looking at ways that he could approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline on the day he is sworn into office, including by rescinding a presidential executive order signed forty-eight years ago.
Two sources familiar with Trump’s transition team that spoke on condition of anonymity told Bloomberg News that the issue is actively being discussed. Trump is said to be looking for ways to jump-start infrastructure development and deliver on a campaign promise to approve the pipeline that would connect the Canadian oil sands with U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.
Although the details haven’t been hashed out, the strategy hinges on Trump rescinding a executive order signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson that put the State Department in charge of permitting border-crossing oil pipelines. That directive assigned State Department responsibility for determining whether projects would be in the “national interest.”
Trump’s actions wouldn’t guarantee the pipeline’s construction in the face of environmental opposition that helped kept it in limbo for years. Executive Director of the climate action group 350.org May Boeve said that, “If Trump grants the permit, there will be a massive backlash, both on the ground and in the courts, that could tie this project up for years.”
Legislation that has been proposed in Congress would also shift responsibility from the State Department for vetting any proposed pipelines or power lines that would cross into the U.S. from Canada or Mexico, but Trump wouldn’t need to wait for that to pass.
Susan Dudley, director of the Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University, said that Trump could rescind the Johnson-era executive order immediately. She added that presidents can rescind executive orders just as easily as they issue them.