Last updated on: 1/23/2021 | Author:

Presidential Statements on Keystone XL Pipeline

Jan. 20, 2021

President Biden Rescinds Keystone XL Permit

“The [Mar. 2019] Permit [for the Keystone XL Pipeline] is hereby revoked in accordance with Article 1(1) of the Permit…

In 2015, following an exhaustive review, the Department of State and the President determined that approving the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the U.S. national interest.  That analysis, in addition to concluding that the significance of the proposed pipeline for our energy security and economy is limited, stressed that the United States must prioritize the development of a clean energy economy, which will in turn create good jobs.  The analysis further concluded that approval of the proposed pipeline would undermine U.S. climate leadership by undercutting the credibility and influence of the United States in urging other countries to take ambitious climate action…

The Keystone XL pipeline disserves the U.S. national interest.  The United States and the world face a climate crisis.  That crisis must be met with action on a scale and at a speed commensurate with the need to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory.  At home, we will combat the crisis with an ambitious plan to build back better, designed to both reduce harmful emissions and create good clean-energy jobs.  Our domestic efforts must go hand in hand with U.S. diplomatic engagement.  Because most greenhouse gas emissions originate beyond our borders, such engagement is more necessary and urgent than ever.  The United States must be in a position to exercise vigorous climate leadership in order to achieve a significant increase in global climate action and put the world on a sustainable climate pathway.  Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives.”

Source: Joseph R. Biden, “Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis,”, Jan. 20, 2021

July 29, 2020

President Trump Issues Presidential Permit for Construction into North Dakota

“By virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States of America (the “President”), I hereby grant this Presidential permit, subject to the conditions herein set forth to TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. (the “permittee”). The permittee is a limited partnership, organized under the laws of the State of Delaware and owned by affiliates of TC Energy Corporation, a Canadian public company organized under the laws of Canada. Permission is hereby granted to the permittee to operate and maintain existing pipeline Border facilities, as described herein, at the international border of the United States and Canada at Cavalier County, North Dakota, for the transport between the United States and Canada of all hydrocarbons and petroleum products of every description, refined or unrefined (inclusive of, but not limited to, crude oil, naphtha, liquefied petroleum gas, natural gas liquids, jet fuel, gasoline, kerosene, and diesel), but not including natural gas subject to section 3 of the Natural Gas Act, as amended (15 U.S.C. 717b).

This permit supersedes and revokes the Presidential permit issued previously to the permittee, dated March 11, 2008. See 73 Fed. Reg. 11456 (Mar. 3, 2008) (notice of proposed permit determination).”

Source: Donald Trump, “Presidential Permit,”, July 29, 2020

Mar. 29, 2019

President Trump Issues Presidential Permit, Approving the Keystone XL Pipeline Construction into Montana

“By virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States of America, I hereby grant permission, subject to the conditions herein set forth, to TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. (hereinafter referred to as the “permittee”), to construct, connect, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities at the international border of the United States and Canada at Phillips County, Montana, for the import of oil from Canada to the United States. The permittee is a limited partnership organized under the laws of the State of Delaware, owned by affiliates of TransCanada Corporation, a Canadian public company organized under the laws of Canada.

This permit supersedes the Presidential permit issued to the permittee, dated March 23, 2017. For the avoidance of doubt, I hereby revoke that March 23, 2017, permit.”

Source: Donald Trump, “Presidential Permit,”, Mar. 29, 2019

Mar 4, 2017

President Trump Approves the Keystone XL Pipeline Permit

“Today, I’m pleased to announce the official approval of the presidential permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. TransCanada will finally be allowed to complete this long overdue project with efficiency and with speed. We’re working out the final details as we speak. It’s going to be an incredible pipeline, greatest technology known to man or woman. And frankly, we’re very proud of it.”

Source: Donald Trump, “Remarks by the President in TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline Announcement,”, Mar. 24, 2017

Jan. 24, 2017

President Trump Invites Keystone Pipeline to Resubmit Application for “Expeditious Review”

“Invitation to Submit an Application. I hereby invite TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. (TransCanada), to promptly re-submit its application to the Department of State for a Presidential permit for the construction and operation of the Keystone XL Pipeline, a major pipeline for the importation of petroleum from Canada to the United States…

The Secretary of State shall, if the application referred to in section 2 is submitted, receive the application and take all actions necessary and appropriate to facilitate its expeditious review.”

Source: Donald Trump, “Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline,”, Jan. 24, 2017

Nov. 6, 2015

President Obama Agrees with State Department Decision to Reject Keystone Pipeline

“This morning, Secretary Kerry informed me that, after extensive public outreach and consultation with other Cabinet agencies, the State Department has decided that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States. I agree with that decision…

[L]et me briefly comment on some of the reasons why the State Department rejected this pipeline.

First: The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy…

Second: The pipeline would not lower gas prices for American consumers…

Third: Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security.”

Source: Barack Obama, “Statement by the President on the Keystone XL Pipeline,”, Nov. 6, 2015

Feb. 24, 2015

President Obama Vetoes the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act

“I am returning herewith without my approval S. 1, the ‘Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act.’ Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.

The Presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously. But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people. And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest — including our security, safety, and environment — it has earned my veto.”

Source: Barack Obama, “Veto Message to the Senate: S.1, Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act,”, Feb. 24, 2015

Jan. 6, 2015

Obama Administration Veto Threat: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest

“This piece of legislation is not altogether different than legislation that was introduced in the last Congress, and you’ll recall that we put out a statement of administration position indicating that the President would have vetoed had that bill passed the previous Congress. And I can confirm for you that if this bill passes this Congress the President wouldn’t sign it either.

And that’s because there’s already a well-established process in place to consider whether or not infrastructure projects like this are in the best interest of the country; that in previous administrations when pipeline projects like this were considered they were evaluated by the State Department and other experts in the administration to reach a determination about whether or not that project was in the national interest.

Now, the thing that is impeding a final conclusion about this pipeline is the fact that the pipeline route has not even been finalized yet, that there continues to be an outstanding question about the route of the pipeline through one part of Nebraska, and that’s related to an ongoing legal matter in Nebraska. Once that is resolved, that should speed the completion of the evaluation of that project.

I think the President has been pretty clear that he does not think that circumventing a well-established process for evaluating these projects is the right thing for Congress to do.”

Source: Josh Earnest, “Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest,”, Jan. 6, 2015

Dec. 19, 2014

Remarks by President Obama in Year-End Press Conference

“At issue in Keystone is not American oil. It is Canadian oil that is drawn out of tar sands in Canada. That oil currently is being shipped out through rail or trucks, and it would save Canadian oil companies and the Canadian oil industry an enormous amount of money if they could simply pipe it all the way through the United States down to the Gulf. Once that oil gets to the Gulf, it is then entering into the world market, and it would be sold all around the world…

[T]here is very little impact, nominal impact, on U.S. gas prices – what the average American consumer cares about – by having this pipeline come through. And sometimes the way this gets sold is, let’s get this oil and it’s going to come here. And the implication is, is that’s going to lower gas prices here in the United States. It’s not…

Now, the construction of the pipeline itself will create probably a couple thousand jobs. Those are temporary jobs until the construction actually happens. There’s probably some additional jobs that can be created in the refining process down in the Gulf. Those aren’t completely insignificant – it’s just like any other project…

And then, with respect to the cost, all I’ve said is that I want to make sure that if, in fact, this project goes forward, that it’s not adding to the problem of climate change, which I think is very serious and does impose serious costs on the American people…

So, in terms of process, you’ve got a Nebraska judge that’s still determining whether or not the new path for this pipeline is appropriate. Once that is resolved, then the State Department will have all the information it needs to make its decision.

But I’ve just tried to give this perspective, because I think that there’s been this tendency to really hype this thing as some magic formula to what ails the U.S. economy, and it’s hard to see on paper where exactly they’re getting that information from.”

Source: Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President in Year-End Press Conference,”, Dec. 19, 2014

June 25, 2013

Remarks by President Obama on the Keystone XL Pipeline’s Effect on Climate Change

“Now, I know there’s been, for example, a lot of controversy surrounding the proposal to build a pipeline, the Keystone pipeline, that would carry oil from Canadian tar sands down to refineries in the Gulf. And the State Department is going through the final stages of evaluating the proposal. That’s how it’s always been done. But I do want to be clear: Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward. It’s relevant.”

Source: Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President on Climate Change,”, June 25, 2013

Jan. 18, 2012

President Obama Agrees with Secretary of State’s Recommendation to deny Keystone XL Pipeline Application

“Earlier today, I received the Secretary of State’s recommendation on the pending application for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment. As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree.”

Source: Barack Obama, “Statement by the President on the Keystone XL Pipeline,”, Jan. 18, 2012

[Editor’s Note: On Jan. 18, 2012 President Obama denied the original 2008 application for the Keystone XL Pipeline. For more information about the Aug. 26, 2011 Environmental Impact Statement, as well as President Obama’s Jan. 18, 2012 statement denying the 2008 Keystone XL pipeline permit, please read our resource “Background Information on the 2008 Keystone XL Pipeline Application.”]