In a move that could have a modest economic impact and a soaring political impact, the Trump administration reversed Obama’s block on the Keystone Pipeline XL, fulfilling yet another promise Trump made on the campaign trail.
“Today we begin to make things right,” President Trump said Friday after the State Department granted its permit for construction to start.
The pipeline was put on hold by the Obama administration for years; the president finally moved to reject the project altogether due to pressure from the Hillary Clinton campaign. Once constructed, it would provide a major new thoroughfare for exporters in Canada to ship high-value tar sands crude to buyers in the Gulf of Mexico.
Environmentalists made a cause out of the pipeline, insisting that it would bring disaster to the climate and pose a threat to its immediate surroundings. Meanwhile, Republicans have argued that it will be a boon for the economy and it will shore up the country’s energy security far into the future.
In both cases, independent analysts have said that the arguments are out of proportion with reality. There’s no reason to think the pipeline would be anymore of an environmental threat than any other pipeline, and it’s silly to imagine that it would contribute in any meaningful way to climate change. On the other hand, the pipeline is not expected to be a major jobs producer, although it could employ hundreds in the short term.
If the announcement is not going to rock the American economy, though, it is still a powerful message from the new administration: Things are different now, and we are going to follow through on what we said were problems under Obama. And with everything they do, the Trump White House is making it clear to Democrats, the voters, and the world that those problems encompassed almost everything in the federal government.