Keystone XL pipeline is shut down after years of climate activism


TC Energy Corp. ended his 16-year quest to build the Keystone XL pipeline, a controversial cross-border project that has become a litmus test for climate activism and has been blocked by President Joe Biden.

Calgary-based TC Energy said in a statement it had officially ended the project after consulting with the Government of Alberta in Canada. He had already suspended construction of the pipeline earlier this year, after Biden revoked a presidential permit for the project.

Keystone XL has helped galvanize modern climate activism, uniting environmentalists in a battle against the project that some have described as a ‘dirty climate bomb’. It also changed the course of American environmentalism from its roots fighting nuclear power, toxic waste, and chemical insecticides in the 1960s and 1970s.

“The protest against the Keystone pipeline was a massive development in the climate movement,” and the cancellation of the project “is a testament to the effectiveness of collective citizen action,” said Robert Brulle, visiting professor at the Brown University and expert in environmental activism.

Opposition to Keystone, he added, has stepped up action on climate change and “marked the end of the unchallenged expansion of oil and gas infrastructure in the United States.”

TC Energy’s decision ends a long struggle over the 1,200-mile (1,930-kilometer) pipeline designed to transport more than 800,000 barrels per day of crude from the Canadian oil sands from Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska.

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The project was rocked by political winds in the United States, rejected by President Barack Obama in 2015 before President Donald Trump relaunched it two years later. Biden issued an executive order revoking the critical presidential license for Keystone XL on the first day of his tenure.

Environmentalists said the line would provide an outlet for heavy crude mined in Alberta through particularly energy-intensive processes and that its combustion would exacerbate climate change. They mounted a decade-long campaign against the project, with battles fought in federal courthouses and courtrooms – and protests attended by Midwestern celebrities at the White House.

“When this fight started people thought ‘Big Oil’ couldn’t be beaten,” said Bill McKibben, founder of, who led the first sit-ins against Keystone XL in the White House in 2011. “But when enough people stand up, we are even stronger than the richest fossil fuel companies.

The fight against Keystone XL also presaged further battles over the construction of oil and gas pipelines from South Dakota to New York.

“The era of building fossil fuel pipelines without careful consideration of their potential impact on climate change and on local communities is over,” said Anthony Swift, Project Canada director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Entire segments of Keystone XL, including one that crosses the Canada-US border, have already been built. Even without Keystone XL, two new pipelines are under construction that, when completed, will provide oil sands producers with more than sufficient capacity for crude exports.

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Jane Kleeb, the president of the Democratic Party of Nebraska who has been one of Keystone XL’s foremost opponents, said other projects should now be closed amid the climate crisis and concerns about pollution from the sea. ‘water. Activists have now focused on Enbridge Inc. Line 3 in Minnesota.

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“We cannot meet President Biden’s bold climate goals if we continue to endorse pipelines,” Kleeb said. “So at this time, we are asking President Biden to suspend all other pipelines, like Line 3 in rural Minnesota, to show respect for communities and finally conduct the appropriate studies on water, cultural resources and the climate that these pipelines never had under the reckless Trump administration. “

Republicans respond

Republicans immediately got into motion, accusing Biden of the cancellation and contrasting the president’s opposition to Keystone XL with his administration’s approach to Nord Stream 2, a pipeline to transport natural gas from Russia to the Germany. The Biden administration lifted sanctions on the company building Nord Stream 2 last month.

Senator Steve Daines, a Republican from Montana, called it “devastating news for our economy, our jobs, our environment and our national security – and it’s all President Biden’s fault.”

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Business interests have also lamented Keystone’s cancellation, saying it could discourage developers from pursuing other U.S. infrastructure projects subject to extensive licensing reviews. Marty Durbin, president of the Global Energy Institute at the US Chamber of Commerce, said TC Energy’s decision was the result of a political error by the administration.

There is an “opportunity cost to thousands of American workers, some of whom have already lost their jobs on this project, and the communities along the pipeline route who are said to have received millions in tax revenues to support their schools and communities. infrastructure, ”Durbin said. “This episode is also a black mark on our relationship with our close northern ally, Canada, and will impact our ability to attract private investment for years to come.”

–With help from Robert Tuttle.

Photograph: Pipes for the Keystone XL pipeline are shown here stacked in a yard near Oyen, Alberta, Canada, Tuesday, January 26, 2021. US President Joe Biden has revoked the license for TC’s Keystone XL energy pipeline Energy Corp. via executive decree hours after his inauguration, the clearest sign to date that building a major new pipeline in the United States has become an impossible task.

Copyright 2021 Bloomberg.

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