Trump to approve Keystone XL pipeline after breaking 'American steel' promise

(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump will announce the approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline at the White House on Friday, alongside the chief executive officer of builder TransCanada Corp, according to a senior administration official.

The pipeline linking Canadian oil sands to U.S. refiners had been blocked by former President Barack Obama, who said the pipeline would do nothing to reduce fuel prices for U.S. motorists and would contribute emissions linked to global warming.

Trump signed an executive order to advance the project soon after taking office in January, saying it would create thousands of jobs.

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A sixty-foot section of pipe is lowered into a trench during construction of the Gulf Coast Project pipeline in Prague, Oklahoma, U.S., on Monday, March 11, 2013. The Gulf Coast Project, a 485-mile crude oil pipeline being constructed by TransCanada Corp., is part of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project and will run from Cushing, Oklahoma to Nederland, Texas. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
TransCanada President and CEO Russ Girling (2nd L) announces the new Energy East Pipeline during a news conference in Calgary, Alberta, August 1, 2013. TransCanada Corp on Thursday said it would move ahead with a $12 billion oil pipeline to ship Western Canada's oil sands crude to refiners on its east coast and beyond, scaling up the project as its U.S.-bound Keystone XL line stalls in Washington. REUTERS/Todd Korol/File Photo
Shayne Walker, a weld inspector, fills out paperwork during construction of the Gulf Coast Project pipeline in Prague, Oklahoma, U.S., on Monday, March 11, 2013. The Gulf Coast Project, a 485-mile crude oil pipeline being constructed by TransCanada Corp., is part of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project and will run from Cushing, Oklahoma to Nederland, Texas. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
PORT ARTHUR, TEXAS - SEPT12: The Valero refinery works glow in the dusk light in Port Arthur, Texas. The state of Texas has placed a historical plaque noting that this area is near where the oil boom started in 1901. Port Arthur, Texas is the end of the line for oil that would travel through the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images
A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp's planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, North Dakota, January 25, 2017. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp's planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, North Dakota, January 25, 2017. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp's planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, North Dakota, January 25, 2017. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
BUTTE, NEBRASKA - JULY 04: The Keystone XL pipeline at one point was going to run through the sensitive Sand Hills areas of Nebraska west of Butte, Nebraska. The pipeline has been rerouted and now skirts the Sand Hills, but still goes under the Niobrara River area pictured here.(Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images
VALENTINE, NEBRASKA - JULY 04: The Keystone XL pipeline at one point was going to run through the sensitive Sand Hills areas of Nebraska in the vicinity of Valentine, Nebraska. The pipeline has been rerouted to the east and now avoids the sensitive the Sand Hills, so it will not pass through this area at the Minnechaduza Creek. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images
North Dakota rancher Bob Banderet stands in front of the Keystone pumping station that dumped 500-barrels of tar sands crude on the North Dakota prairie outside of the small town of Cogswell. Bandaret witnessed the spill from his nearby farmhouse and alerted authorities, even before TransCanada was aware of the break. From Oil and Water: Following the route of the Keystone XL pipeline through the USA. (Photo by Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
PORT ARTHUR, TEXAS - SEPT12: The Valero refinery looms on the horizon in Port Arthur Texas. Port Arthur, Texas is the end of the line for oil that would travel through the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images
PORT ARTHUR, TEXAS - SEPT12: Maintenance work is constant at the Valero refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. Port Arthur, Texas is the end of the line for oil that would travel through the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Equipment sits near a section of pipeline during construction of the Gulf Coast Project pipeline in Atoka, Oklahoma, U.S., on Monday, March 11, 2013. The Gulf Coast Project, a 485-mile crude oil pipeline being constructed by TransCanada Corp., is part of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project and will run from Cushing, Oklahoma to Nederland, Texas. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Trump had originally advocated for pipeline creation as a way to boost the American economy and create jobs, and even signed a memorandum requiring pipelines be made with American steel and other U.S. equipment. The Keystone XL pipeline project, though, will not be subject to that level of scrutiny.

"The Keystone XL Pipeline is currently in the process of being constructed, so it does not count as a new, retrofitted, repaired or expanded pipeline," a White House spokeswoman told Politico earlier this month.

The administration official said that among those scheduled to be at the White House for the 10:15 a.m. EDT announcement are TransCanada Chief Executive Russell Girling and Sean McGarvey, president of North America's Building Trades Unions.

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Expedited approval of projects is part of Trump's approach for a 10-year, $1 trillion infrastructure package he promised on the campaign trail. The White House is looking for ways to speed up approvals and permits for infrastructure projects, which can sometimes take years to go through the maze of regulatory requirements.

"It does fit into the overall strategy the president has for infrastructure," the official said.

The multibillion-dollar Keystone pipeline would bring more than 800,000 barrels per day of heavy crude from Canada's oil sands in Alberta into Nebraska, linking to an existing pipeline network feeding U.S. refineries and ports along the Gulf of Mexico.

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Approvals are still needed from state regulators, and the pipeline could face legal challenges.

Conservatives have said they support quick approval. Nick Loris, an energy and environment researcher at the Heritage Foundation, said on Thursday that approval would "re-establish some certainty and sanity to a permitting process that was hijacked by political pandering."

Environmental groups that have opposed the pipeline have said they will continue the fight with petitions, political pressure and mass protests.

Christina Gregg contributed to this report.

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