APTN National News
The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion has vowed to work with Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities across Canada and the United States to ensure that the Keystone XL pipeline “never gets built.”
The coalition that includes 122 First Nations and Tribes in Canada and the United States issued a release Friday after the multi-billion dollar project was approved by U.S. President Donald Trump followed by the State Department that had until today, witheld approval of the pipeline.
“Governments should be supporting action to fight climate change and support Indigenous rights, not trying to ram through projects like the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline,” said Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart in the release.
In granting the permit, the U.S. State Department said it concluded that Keystone XL would serve the national interest after considering a range of factors including energy security and the environment.
“This is a significant milestone for the Keystone XL project,” TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said in a statement Friday.
In Ottawa, Canada’s ministers were quick to meet with media to discuss approval of the project.
“We’re very happy because it’s going to create thousands of jobs in Canada and in the United States,” said Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr who once threatened to use soldiers against pipeline protestors. “And it’s a very good example of how the integration of the energy economy in Canada and in the United States is in the interests of both countries … if you combine the approvals that we have already made in Canada and this one today, that’s going to be about 32,000 jobs for the energy sector in Alberta. That’s a very significant number, and we’re very happy about it.”
However, Keystone XL faces more hurdles.
TransCanada still does not have deals with all the landowners in Nebraska on the pipeline’s proposed route and it lacks a permit in that state. Protesters also promise they will try to stop the project, which would help carry Alberta crude to U.S. refineries.
The Calgary-based company said Friday it would continue to work with key stakeholders throughout Nebraska, Montana and South Dakota to obtain the necessary permits and approvals to advance this project to construction.
This is good news for a Liberal government that is trying to get tar sands oil to foreign markets.
Canada has been working hard to ensure that Keystone moved forward. Ministers, including Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna, have been flying to Washington D.C. to meet with lawmakers about Canada’s interests, including the environment and Keystone.
“So in terms of the Keystone pipeline, that was a campaign commitment. We supported it before we were elected,” said McKenna. “As the Prime Minister said just last week, that you – we wouldn’t get pipelines approved without a serious climate plan, and we wouldn’t get a serious climate plan without pipelines, and so this is good news. It’s going to mean good jobs, but we’re – we’re all in on climate change, and I think you saw that in the budget by the significant investments. We’ve got a Climate Plan. We’re working with the provinces and territories.”
Trump signed an executive order in his first week in office that invited TransCanada to reapply for a permit and promised a decision within 60 days. The 60-day timeline in Trump’s executive order was to expire Monday.
“We greatly appreciate President Trump’s administration for reviewing and approving this important initiative and we look forward to working with them as we continue to invest in and strengthen North America’s energy infrastructure,” Girling said.
“Indigenous peoples across the continent will stand together to protect our rights and our traditional territories. 122 First Nations and Tribes have now signed the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion and we will work together and reach out and build allies to stop this project which threatens the lands, waters and environment,” said Hart.