Presidential Memorandum and Presidential Permit
January 24, 2017 and March 24, 2017, respectively

Policy Summary

Two months after President Trump released a presidential memoranda directing the Secretaries of State, the Army, and the Interior to expedite approval for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline the Department of State has issued a Presidential permit to TransCanada authorizing the company to “construct, connect, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities” for the importation of crude oil. The Trump administration, along with industry and Republican proponents, argues that the pipeline will help create jobs and secure national energy security. LEARN MORE


The Keystone XL Pipeline would enable oil companies to transport oil sludge from Canada and North Dakota to Gulf Coast refineries from which they could be easily exported. While Trump boasts the creation of 28,000 jobs from the pipeline, energy historian and consultant Ellen Wald explains that estimates for construction jobs are misleading because they are often inaccurate, they include vague “spin-off” jobs, and the jobs are short-term (a 2014 State Department review estimates only 35 permanent jobs would be created). Framing the project’s job creation as a way of addressing unemployment distorts the actual impacts. Opponents of the pipeline argue that “future demand has been put in question” by high American oil production, green energy, and energy efficient cars and that excess oil from the pipeline will be exported, untouched by U.S. citizens. Clifford Krauss for the New York Times adds that declining oil prices have made expensive oil sand extraction unattractive for oil producers many of whom have sold their assets and abandoned development projects. Environmental groups argue that the pipeline will increase the profitability and production of tar sands oil which produce 81 percent greater greenhouse gas emissions than other forms of oil accelerating the devastating effects of climate change. LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources

  • Natural Resources Defense Council – a non-profit international environmental advocacy group committed to fighting Trump’s “environmental assault” and using “every tool in the kit to stop this dangerous tar sands oil pipeline project.”
  • Greenpeace – an international environmental NGO that uses direct action, lobbying, research, and ecotage to raise public awareness and to influence the public and private sectors.
  • Sierra Club – the nation’s largest environmental preservation organization; recent focuses include green energy, mitigating global warming, and opposing coal.

This brief was compiled by Conor Downey. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact



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