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US gives final approval for Keystone XL pipeline
[WASHINGTON] President Donald Trump's administration said Friday it has granted a permit for TransCanada to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline, giving final approval to a project his predecessor had halted over environmental concerns.
One of Mr Trump's first acts after taking office in January was to give a conditional go-ahead for the controversial cross-border project, which Mr Obama had put on hold.
After a new US review of the project, Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon issued the presidential permit, concluding among other things it would "serve the national interest," the State Department said Friday.
The 1,900-kilometre conduit would carry oil from Canadian tar sands to US Gulf Coast refineries, with some 870 miles winding through the United States.
Mr Trump repeatedly asserted during the US presidential campaign that he would approve the pipeline.
Canada is the world's sixth-largest oil producer thanks to the Alberta tar sands, which produce some of the "dirtiest" crude in the world.
Unlike traditional crude which gushes from a well, tar sand oil must be dug up and essentially melted with steaming hot water before it can be refined. It results in huge lakes of polluted water and the strip-mining of millions of acres of once-pristine boreal forests.
Environmentalists say that tar sand oil contains a harmful and corrosive component - bitumen - which makes pipeline ruptures or leaks more likely and carries greater health and safety risks.