Keystone pipeline won't have to use American steel, despite Trump's repeated promises

PHOTO: Miles of pipe for the stalled Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline are stacked in a field near Ripley, Okla. PlaySue Ogrocki/AP Photo
WATCH Meet the youths at the heart of the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access pipeline

The Keystone XL pipeline will not be bound by the Donald Trump's Jan. 24 memo requiring new and retrofitted pipelines to use American steel, the White House said today -- and apparently contradicting promises made by the president.

"The way that executive order is written … it’s specific to new pipelines or those that are being repaired. And since this one is already currently under construction, the steel is already literally sitting there, it would be hard to go back," White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One. "But I know that everything moving forward would fall under that executive order."

The presidential directive requires "all new pipelines, as well as retrofitted, repaired, or expanded pipelines, inside the borders of the United States, including portions of pipelines, use materials and equipment produced in the United States, to the maximum extent possible and to the extent permitted by law."

In a Feb. 23 meeting with CEOs, Trump told U.S. Steel Corp CEO Mario Longhi that the Keystone and Dakota pipelines "have to" use "steel made in this country."

And in a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 16, Trump said the material for the Keystone and Dakota pipelines "comes from the United States, or we're not building it ... If they want a pipeline in the United States, they're going to use pipe that's made in the United States."

In fact, ABC News has identified at least five instances since the Inauguration where Trump intimated the Keystone pipeline would be built with steel manufactured in America.

In a statement to ABC News, Keystone owner TransCanada -- which has estimated the U.S. portion of the pipeline will require about 660,000 tons of steel -- said, "we continue to be encouraged as our Presidential Permit application makes its way through the approval process. This project will support U.S. energy security, create thousands of well-paying U.S. jobs and provide substantial economic benefits."

According to a memo issued by the company in 2012, TransCanada asserted that roughly half of the pipe used to build Keystone would be manufactured in the U.S., with another quarter coming from Canada, and much of the rest from Italy and India. The memo also said the company "planned to purchase approx. 90% of "all other goods" for the $7.6 billion project from companies on the North American continent.