The Keystone XL Pipeline Project Has Been Terminated, Marking Win For Indigenous Groups

Keystone XL Pipeline Protest at the White House in Washington DC on November 6, 2011. Emma Cassidy/tarsandsaction/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Keystone XL pipeline is no more. The deeply controversial Keystone XL Pipeline Project has been officially terminated following years of protest and pushback from Indigenous groups, as well as conservationists and environmentalists. 

On Wednesday, June 9, TC Energy Corporation confirmed they were terminating the Keystone XL Pipeline Project after construction activities were suspended following the revocation of its Presidential Permit by the Biden Administration back in January 2021. The company said they'll now be working with environmental regulators, stakeholders, and Indigenous groups to "ensure a safe termination of and exit from the Project."

The project has been the subject of many political back-and-forths: the project’s permits were rejected by the Obama administration, then reapproved by the Trump administration, and now revoked again by the Biden administration.

The Keystone XL pipeline was set to carry oil 1,900 kilometers (1,200 miles) from the Canadian province of Alberta down to Nebraska in the US. The stretch of pipe and infrastructure was proposed as an extension to TC Energy’s existing Keystone Pipeline System, which has been pumping Canadian tar sands crude from Alberta to various processing hubs in the middle of the US since 2010.

The project was controversial from the get-go. Not only did the project represent continued deference to fossil fuels, but it also threatened to bring devastating environmental consequences. Tar sands oil is thicker, more acidic, and more corrosive than conventional crude oil, which significantly ups the risk of a leak. Furthermore, the project would fuel further destruction to the boreal forests on Alberta, beneath which the fossil fuel is deposited, destroying wildlife habitat and degrading traditional Indigenous lands. 

On the other hand, backers of the project said the pipeline would bring more money and employment to the area (although the State Department estimated it would only bring 50 full-time permanent jobs).

While big oil and its allies are mourning the decision to terminate the project, it’s been widely applauded by Indigenous groups, climate activists, and environmentalists. 

“The era of building fossil fuel pipelines without scrutiny of their potential impact on climate change and on local communities is over,” Anthony Swift, director of Natural Resources Defense Council’s Canada project, said in a statement. “Keystone XL was a terrible idea from the start. It’s time to accelerate our transition to the clean energy sources that will power a prosperous future.”

“This victory puts polluters and their financiers on notice: terminate your fossil fuel projects now – or a relentless mass movement will stop them for you,” Kendall Mackey, a campaign manager with 350.org, a climate advocacy group, said in a press release.

 


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