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Trump administration approves Keystone XL pipeline

The Trump administration has issued a presidential permit for TransCanada to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The project had been blocked by former President Barack Obama over environmental concerns.

The permit was signed Friday by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon, Jr, who concluded the decision "would serve the national interest," the US State Department said. 

US President Donald Trump had already given the controversial $8 billion (7.4 billion euro) project a conditional green light in January in one of his first acts as president. He called Friday a "great day for American jobs.

"It's going to be an incredible pipeline," the president added. "Greatest technology known to man or woman and, frankly, we're very proud of it."

The Obama administration had put the development on hold in 2015 after years of review, citing environmental concerns. Trump, however, had campaigned on a promise to approve the pipeline, saying it would create thousands of jobs and boost the oil industry.

The State Department on Friday said it had granted the permit after a carrying out a new review of the venture and considering economic, foreign policy and energy concerns.

TransCanada, the company that first applied for a presidential permit in 2008, called the decision a "significant milestone." 

Once complete, the 1,900-kilometer (1,180-mile) pipeline will carry 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada's tar sands in Alberta to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

The decision is a blow to environmentalists and native American activists, who say the pipeline will destroy land used for burial, jeopardize water sources and contribute to emissions linked to global warming. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes have been protesting for months alongside green groups over the pipeline and its potential impacts.

nm/kms (Reuters, AFP, AP)