Media outlets are falsely suggesting President Donald Trump’s executive orders approving the Keystone XL Pipeline also included directives mandating pipeline developers use American steel to complete projects.
Politico and the Los Angeles Times reported Friday on the White House’s recent decision to allow Keystone to complete its project without adhering to Trump’s request that future pipe be made with American steel. The outlets also appear to suggest the president’s requests were directives, not requests, The Daily Caller is reporting.
“The requirement to use domestic steel posed a potential conflict between the administration’s populist agenda and it’s pro-business stance,” the LA Times wrote Friday, breaking the news. “Apparently, business won.”
The paper made no mention of the specifics behind the president’s executive order, namely that it calls for U.S. steel to be used in “all new pipelines, as well as retrofitted, repaired or expanded pipelines” inside the U.S. projects “to the maximum extent possible.”The White House said Friday that Keystone would be exempt from any pledges requiring companies do their level-best to make sure pipeline material came from the U.S.
“Well the way that executive order is written … it’s specific to new pipelines or those that are being repaired,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters. “And since this one is already currently under construction, the steel is already literally sitting there, it would be hard to go back.”
The company developing the project, TransCanda, has already purchased all the steel necessary to complete the job, so roping it in with Trump’s requests would be nearly impossible.
The president, meanwhile, has repeatedly asserted since approving Keystone that energy companies “have to” use U.S. steel if they intend on constructing any new projects. The LA Times and Politico might be conflating the orders with Trump’s puffed-up language.
Politico, for its part, managed to highlight the latter clause in Trump’s executive order, but it too wrapped its reporting around the idea that business realities squelched the president’s supposed directive.
“The Keystone XL Pipeline will not be subject to President Donald Trump’s executive order requiring infrastructure projects to be built with American steel,” the online outlet wrote in its report on the White House’s clarification.
Neither the LA Times nor Politico have responded to requests for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Trump’s pipeline orders have generated a slew of criticisms from conservative groups as well. Free market policy analysts, for instance, have blasted the idea, suggesting pipelines are private investments that should not be directed by the federal government.
There is no precedent for a U.S. president requiring private companies to use American products, Dan Ikenson, director of the Cato Institute’s Herbert’s Trade Policy Studies, told reporters in January.
“First of all, this is private investment, so there’s no legal authority for the government to require a private company to use domestic materials,” Ikenson said.
He added: “Is it good policy to have the president dictate where U.S. companies buy their inputs? No. I think that’s terrible. I think that’s dictatorial. I think it’s very bad precedence.”
The requirement, some analysts argue, could put future pipeline projects in jeopardy, especially considering the high price of American steel relative to that of competitors in foreign markets.
Trump’s so-called directive would create “a barrier to trade, and barriers to trade make both sides worse off,” David Henderson, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and former economic adviser to President Ronald Reagan, told reporters.