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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

1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.

3 hours ago - World

Olaf Scholz sworn in as German chancellor, succeeding Merkel

Incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is sworn in by Bundestag President Bärbel Bas in Berlin today. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Social Democrat Olaf Scholz was sworn in as chancellor of Germany on Wednesday, succeeding Angela Merkel after 16 years and launching a new era of German and European politics.

Why it matters: Scholz, a center-left pragmatist who served as finance minister and vice chancellor in Merkel's last government, will lead Europe's largest economy in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens and pro-business Free Democrats.