On Friday morning, the White House said it would approve the permits necessary to build the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. The project had been on hold since the Obama administration rejected the pipeline's construction in November, 2015.
During the signing ceremony, President Trump praised the pipeline as "incredible," using the "greatest technology known to man or woman."
"It's a great day for American jobs," Trump exclaimed, "and a historic moment for North America and energy independence."
"When completed, the Keystone XL pipeline will span 900 miles," Trump said, adding, "wow."
The pipeline has long been a controversial project, pitting environmental advocates and activists against those who argue that Keystone will provide jobs and lower gas prices by connecting Canadian oil to American shipping lanes. However, as anti-pipeline critics have noted, the crude pumped from Canada's tar pits is particularly hazardous to the environment, and unlikely to dramatically increase job prospects in the U.S.
In announcing the pipeline's approval on Friday, the State Department said it "considered a range of factors, including, but not limited to, foreign policy; energy security; environmental, cultural and economic impacts; and compliance with applicable law and policy." Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a former Exxon Mobil executive, recused himself from his department's work on the pipeline earlier this month.
Environmental groups wasted no time speaking out against the pipeline's approval.
"The State Department just sent a signal to the rest of the world that the United States government is moving backwards when it comes to climate and energy," Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said in a press release. "The Trump administration may be furiously propping up an obsolete energy system at the behest of his fossil fuel cronies, but the majority of people in this country want action on climate change and want support for renewable energy."
The Sierra Club also decried the move, saying "Trump’s decision betrays our children’s and future Generations."
"We’re living in what feels to be the worst version of Groundhog Day imaginable, as every morning we’re waking up to yet another decision made by Trump that would be disastrous for our climate, our communities, and our health," the group wrote. "But Trump will not succeed. The pipeline will pollute our air and water, destroy farmers’ and ranchers’ property, and enrich the foreign oil barons and corporate polluters that have been stocking Trump’s cabinet and pulling his strings from the get-go."
The Trump administration's approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline comes shortly after the president gave the green light to proceed with construction on the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota. There, activists spent over a year fighting against the pipeline's construction, which they said threatened the neighboring Standing Rock Sioux native tribe's sacred lands and water.