State Department approves Keystone XL Pipeline
On Friday, March 24, the State Department issued cross-border permits to developer TransCanada, that allow the company to build its controversial $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline. The decision reverses an Obama administration move to not issue the permits in 2015. Keystone XL is remarkable in that it has been a rallying cry for environmentalists and their campaigns to combat global climate change. The Trump administration’s decision is not surprising, as all signs pointed towards the administration green-lighting the project. Still, this move is a symbolic and material defeat for environmental groups and the planet, and a political win for President Trump. The President, when announcing that the permits had been issued, stated that this was a “great day for jobs and energy independence”.
Senate marches forward repeal of predator hunting moratorium in Alaska refuges
Senate passed H.J. Res 69, which would waive the “Alaska National Wildlife Refuge Rule”, which essentially bans the hunting of predators in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge System. Sponsor Don Young (R-AK) said in a statement that the Rule “fundamentally destroys a cooperative relationship between Alaska and the Federal Government”. This is essentially an argument about state sovereignty and the ability of states to make decisions about their own natural resources. The rule passed mostly along party lines 52-47. The bill already passed the House, and now heads to the President’s desk. Trump is likely to sign the measure, although I doubt this is a priority of his administration.