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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has recused himself from any issues and deliberations around the Keystone XL oil pipeline project, a statement from the State Department revealed. The statement was sent to Greenpeace in response to a call from the environmental organization for Tillerson to do just that—step aside from decisions around the project.
According to the State Dept statement, Tillerson distanced himself from any decisions regarding the pipeline project a while ago—in fact, as soon as he took the helm at the department.
“He has not worked on that matter at the Department of State, and will play no role in the deliberations or ultimate resolution of TransCanada's application,” it said.
Keystone XL, which would bring 800,000 bpd of heavy crude from Alberta to Nebraska, from where the fuel will be transported to Gulf Coast refineries, was the object of vocal and persistent opposition that eventually led to a presidential veto from Barrack Obama two years ago. The President argued that the project, besides the environmental risks, does not make sense economically.
Incumbent Donald Trump disagrees: the executive order for the resumption of the Keystone XL project was among the first ones he signed after taking office, along with an identical order for the Dakota Access pipeline, likewise the target of environmentalist protests.
Canadians are apparently in favor of the renewed project. According to a recent poll, Albertans, who stand to benefit directly from Keystone XL’s construction, are strongly in favor of it, with 77 percent of respondents in the poll saying so.
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Nationwide, support for the pipeline comes in at 48 percent, while 33 percent are against it. Interestingly, earlier polls from the same market research company, Angus Reid, on other pipeline projects have seen lower overall support.
After the initial approval from the White House, there was worry that the good news may clash with Trump’s decision to ban the use of non-U.S. produced steel in infrastructure projects. However, earlier this week the administration said Keystone XL will be exempted from the new rule.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.