TransCanada renews Keystone XL application

The new pipeline application came two days after U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order inviting the company to reapply

CALGARY – TransCanada Corp. has officially revived the once-dead Keystone XL pipeline with a new application for a presidential permit.

Thursday’s application came two days after U.S. President Donald Trump, who would ultimately need to approve the permit, signed an executive order inviting the company to reapply.

The order also encouraged U.S. regulatory agencies to decide on the application within 60 days, meaning TransCanada could know by the end of March the fate of the pipeline it has been trying to build since 2008.

“I’ve always thought it was the right thing to do, and I’ve always said, eventually, you know, the right thing happens if you’re patient,” said TransCanada CEO Russ Girling in a video statement.

“So we’re really pleased to have this opportunity, and we look forward to working with all stakeholders as we develop this project in the interest of both our countries,” he said.

The TransCanada (TSX:TRP) pipeline would ship oil 1,900 kilometres from Alberta to Steele City, Neb., where it would connect with other lines leading to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Girling said the project, which would carry some 830,000 barrels of oil a day, will help meet America’s growing energy needs and create substantial jobs and economic benefits on both sides of the border.

Speaking at an investor conference a day earlier, he said the company was talking with shippers to determine if they still support the long-delayed pipeline, which as of 2014 had an expected cost of about $8-billion.

The total costs could, however, change significantly.

While signing the order Tuesday, Trump said that the U.S. was going to “renegotiate some of the terms” on the pipeline, while also signing an order for the commerce secretary to come up with a plan to use American material to the maximum extent possible, and to the maximum extent allowed by law.

TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha said the company would have to see, and have time to review, such a plan before determining its impact on the pipeline.

Keystone XL also continues to face significant environmental opposition, in an era that has already seen dramatic stand-offs against projects like the Dakota Access pipeline.

Greenpeace campaigner Keith Stewart predicted the alliance of indigenous opponents, ranchers and environmentalists who successfully fought the pipeline previously would be joined by people horrified by Trump’s agenda to fight it again.

“State-level legal battles, the accelerating transition to renewable energy and if necessary civil disobedience all stand on the path of this pipeline,” Stewart said in an email.

Former president Barack Obama rejected Keystone XL in late 2015, declaring it would undercut U.S. efforts to clinch a global climate change deal that was a centrepiece of his environmental agenda.

In response, TransCanada filed notice to launch a $15-billion claim under the North American Free Trade Agreement. It also filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Federal Court in Texas alleging that Obama exceeded his power under the U.S. Constitution by denying construction of the project.

Cunha said the NAFTA challenge remains unchanged, without addressing the status of the U.S. court challenge.

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