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Trump administration moves controversial Keystone XL pipeline closer to construction

Trump administration moves controversial Keystone XL pipeline closer to construction
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The Trump administration on Wednesday approved a right-of-way grant allowing for the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline across 44 miles of land in Montana. 

Company TC Energy will now be permitted to construct the pipeline across the federally managed lands, according to a statement from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). 

The pipeline is opposed by environmental and indigenous groups who have claimed that the line could infringe on land considered sacred and that it could negatively affect the environment. 

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Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, however, touted the decision as a "common sense infrastructure improvement in our country" in the statement. 

"President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump admin to announce coronavirus vaccine will be covered under Medicare, Medicaid: report Election officials say they're getting suspicious emails that may be part of malicious attack on voting: report McConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote MORE clearly recognizes the importance of having the infrastructure necessary to meet our energy needs and to fuel our economic progress,” he said. 

The pipeline's construction and operation still requires permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is also dependent on decisions by the Energy Department's Western Area Power Administration and the Agriculture Department's Rural Utilities Service, according to the statement.  

The project also currently faces court challenges. 

A federal judge in December rejected a bid by the government to throw out lawsuits against the administration’s approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris determined at the time that the Rosebud Sioux and Fort Belknap Indian tribes made credible claims that the line violated their treaty rights.

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The Keystone XL pipeline plan was revived under President Trump after being rejected by former President Obama. 

A permit approved by Trump in 2017 was challenged in court and in 2018 a judge placed a hold on its construction. 

Trump last year rescinded his previous pipeline permit and replaced it with a new permit that effectively removed existing barriers to construction.