The company building the Keystone XL pipeline will not have to use U.S. steel on the project, despite multiple promises from President Trump and an executive order requiring domestic materials be used on pipelines within U.S. borders.
The order, signed on the same day that Trump fast-tracked the building of the pipeline with a separate order, says U.S. steel must be used on “all new pipelines, as well as retrofitted, repaired, or expanded pipelines, inside the borders of the United States.”
As a White House spokesperson tells Politico, Keystone is none of those: “The Keystone XL Pipeline is currently in the process of being constructed, so it does not count as a new, retrofitted, repaired or expanded pipeline.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders elaborated on Friday. “Since this one is already currently under construction, the steel is already literally sitting there, it’s hard to go back. Everything moving forward would fall under that executive order,” she said.
While the language of the executive order does leave the White House some room to maneuver, allowing Keystone to go ahead without using U.S. steel directly contradicts statements from the president.
Only eight days ago, Trump told U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi that the companies building both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline had “to buy … steel made in this country.” The next day in speech at CPAC, Trump recounted a conversation about the pipelines that went like this:
“I said, ‘Who makes the pipes for the pipeline?’ ‘Well, sir, it comes from all over the world; isn’t that wonderful?’ I said, ‘Nope, comes from the United States, or we’re not building it.’ American steel. If they want a pipeline in the United States, they’re going to use pipe that’s made in the United States.”
Of course, keeping that promise as it relates to Keystone was never very realistic. Much of the steel to build the pipeline was already purchased before Trump even took office.