Stock Photo of November 3, 2015, Keystone Steele City pumping station, which will connect the Keystone XL pipeline. Nati Harnik AP

US President Donald Trump on Friday authorized Canadian company Trans-Canada to build the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that was rejected by its predecessor, Barack Obama, and has sparked rejection of environmentalists.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner announced in a statement Trump’s decision to allow the Canadian company to “build, operate and maintain” gas pipeline facilities in the state of Montana, on the US-Canadian border.

Trump is expected to give more details about the project Friday at 10.15 local time (14.15 GMT), White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in his Twitter account.

In a statement, TransCanada president Russ Girling said Trump’s authorization was “an important milestone” for the construction of the pipeline and paves the way for its start-up.

“We are very grateful to President Trump’s government for reviewing and approving this important initiative, we look forward to working with him and to continue investing in strengthening the North American energy structure,” added Girling.

The Keystone XL pipeline aims to transport about 830,000 barrels per day of diluted synthetic and bituminous crude oil from the Canadian province of Alberta to locations across the United States, including Texas refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.

Obama banned the construction of that pipeline in 2015 after a lengthy review of its environmental impact that ended with Secretary of State John Kerry’s recommendation to reject the project because erecting it could “undermine” America’s role as a global leader against climate change.

But four days after coming to power, Trump signed an executive action that gave green light to the continuation of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, another controversial project, as long as the construction companies were willing to “negotiate” a series of “terms and Conditions”.

The measure signed by Trump promised that the State Department would make a decision on whether to recommend the Keystone pipeline within 60 days of receiving the request from TransCanada, which filed it on January 26.

The deadline for reviewing that application was due Monday 27, so the White House had already said that it would have news “soon” about the project.

According to the US diplomat’s spokesman, permission to build the pipeline was signed by US Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Shannon.

Such authorization should normally come from the Secretary of State, but the occupant of that position, Rex Tillerson, has departed from the deliberations on Keystone because until last January he was head of the oil company ExxonMobil, which has investments in the Canadian oil sands which would feed the pipeline.


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