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The issue

President Trump will sign an executive order today to resurrect construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

The facts

First proposed in 2010 by the private oil company TransCanada, Keystone XL is a pipeline from Alberta to Nebraska. Its proposed route has been changed multiple times to account for protests that it would run through Nebraska's environmentally sensitive Sandhills.

Construction of the pipeline would help further develop of Alberta's oil fields, which extract a form of oil called bitumen, which requires large-scale and often toxic methods for its extraction. TransCanada suspended its permitting process in 2015 after being unable to get it through the Obama administration, but said in November it still wants to do the project.

Why it matters

Short term: A win for Trump, as State Department estimates that the two year construction will create 42,000 jobs — playing right into Trump's "America first" policy — although only 35 of them will be permanent. A loss for environmental groups, who put so much into stopping the effort.

Long-term: A win for oil companies, as XL represents a major investment in Alberta's oil fields and creates a huge new supply of oil for U.S. refineries. But it's also a source for environmentalist organizers. As Nebraska environmentalist Jane Kleeb, who organized opposition to Keystone XL, put it: "We knew this would be coming. We stand and fight...."

Go deeper

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
6 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

7 hours ago - Health

Beware a Thanksgiving mirage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Don't be surprised if COVID metrics plunge over the next few days, only to spike next week.

Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.