During his joint address this week, President Trump promised he would use American steel to build the Keystone pipeline. Whoops.
One of Trump’s signature promises from his campaign last year was that the U.S. government would only contract public works projects that involved American-produced goods. He even told Congress on Tuesday night that the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines would be made this way:
“We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines — thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs — and I’ve issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel,” Trump said.
But the Trump administration is making a very noticeable “flip-flop” exception to the rule — the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The pipeline is considered by the Trump administration to be “grandfathered” in. “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,” a spokesperson with the White House told Politico.
Trump signed an executive order in January ordering the Commerce Department to develop a plan that would “use materials and equipment produced in the United States” for all new and retrofitted pipelines being constructed. But that plan has its limits: it only requires the Commerce Department to do so “to the maximum extent possible and to the extent permitted by law,” leaving a lot of wiggle-room for the administration to justify not buying American-made products to make or repair new pipelines.
That executive order also came on the same day that Trump ordered the pipeline to resume operations, after former President Barack Obama had suspended work on the Keystone XL Pipeline project in 2015.
Chris Walker has been writing about political issues for the past decade, including for sites such as Elite Daily, AMERICAblog, and Mic. You can follow him on Twitter @thatchriswalker.