La. leaders laud return of Keystone XL Pipeline

By ELIZABETH CRISP The Advocate

After years of delays under the Obama administration, the Keystone XL pipeline widely supported by Louisiana lawmakers appears to be advancing.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday took steps to advance the controversial Keystone XL pipeline — signaling a major shift in the nation’s energy policy and approach to climate change under the new administration. He also took executive action to move ahead with the Dakota Access oil pipeline’s construction, which had been halted amid major protest demonstrations.
Obama had personally halted the Keystone XL project, citing concerns over its impact on global climate change initiatives.
Through his order, Trump has invited Keystone builder, TransCanada, to resubmit its application to the State Department for a presidential permit to construct and operate the pipeline. The company said it would reapply.
Trump has also said he will require that it be constructed using steel from the United States.
The timeline remains unclear, but several members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation and representatives from the state’s oil and gas industry lauded the move.
“Increasing our energy infrastructure is good for the nation, bringing well-paying jobs and increased revenue to state and local governments,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge. “Clearly, President Trump is committed to fulfilling the promises that Republicans made to the American people.”
U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-Madisonville, called Trump’s action “an encouraging development for our Louisiana families who give so much to the oil and gas industry.”
“By embracing the Keystone XL pipeline, President Trump is unraveling the destructive policies of the prior administration that harmed our energy industry and killed Louisiana jobs,” he said.
Keystone, a longstanding issue that has been popular among both Republicans and prominent Democrats in Louisiana, would link Canadian oil with refineries in Texas.
The pipeline won’t pass through Louisiana, but supporters say it would strengthen the energy sector that’s vital to the state’s economy.
A downturn in oil prices has been cited among the causes of Louisiana’s recession.
Gifford Briggs, vice president of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, said that there may not be a direct spurring of Louisiana jobs from the pipeline, but it and other actions that Trump has promised, including the easing of some regulations and promoting job, have a larger impact on the industry here.
“There’s been some renewed optimism in the industry as a whole,” he said. “Anybody can talk a big game, but actually seeing that talk put into action — and so quickly — is going to help solidify that renewed optimism about what can be done.”
He said that the measure signals to the industry that it has a friend in the White House and can hopefully begin to rebuild.
“It certainly feels good to have that renewed sense of hope,” he said.
The pipeline featured a prominent role in the 2014 U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican Bill Cassidy, who went on to win the election.
Both candidates supported the pipeline, but Landrieu, then chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, had been unable to move pro-Keystone legislation through the then-Democratic-controlled chamber.
In the lead up to the runoff election, a vote on the Keystone bill made it to the floor, where it failed by one vote.

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