Calgary-based TC Energy said in a
Keystone XL helped galvanize modern climate activism, uniting environmentalists in a battle against the project some described as a “climate dirty bomb.” It also shifted the course of American environmentalism from its roots battling nuclear power, toxic waste and chemical insecticides in the 1960s and 1970s.
“The protest over the Keystone pipeline was a massive development in the climate movement,” and the project’s cancellation “is a testament to the effectiveness of collective citizen action,” said Robert Brulle, a visiting professor at Brown University who is an expert on environmental activism.
Opposition to Keystone, he added, amplified action against climate change and “marked the end of the unprotested expansion of oil and gas infrastructure in the U.S.”
The TC Energy decision concludes a long struggle over the 1,200-mile (1,930-kilometer) pipeline designed to ferry more than 800,000 barrels a day of Canadian oil sands crude from Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska.
The project had been buffeted by the political winds in the U.S., getting rejected by President
Environmentalists said the line would provide an outlet for heavy crude extracted in Alberta through particularly energy-intensive processes and burning it would exacerbate climate change. They mounted a decade-long campaign against the project, with battles fought in statehouses and federal courtrooms -- and celebrity-attended protests from the Midwest to the
“When this fight began, people thought ‘Big Oil’ couldn’t be beat,” said
The fight against Keystone XL also presaged other battles over the construction of oil and gas pipelines from South Dakota to New York.
“The era of building fossil fuel pipelines without scrutiny of their potential impact on climate change and on local communities is over,” said
Whole segments of Keystone XL, including one that crosses the U.S.-Canadian border, have already been built. Even without Keystone XL, two new pipelines are under construction that, once completed, will provide oil sands producers with more than enough capacity for crude exports.
Jane Kleeb, the chairwoman of the Nebraska Democratic Party who has been one of Keystone XL’s most prominent opponents, said other projects should now be shut in the face of the climate crisis and concerns about water pollution. Activists have now
“We can not meet President Biden’s bold climate goals if we keep approving pipelines,” Kleeb said. “So in this moment, we ask President Biden to pause all other pipelines, like Line 3 in rural Minnesota, to show communities respect and to finally conduct the proper water, cultural resources and climate studies those pipelines never got under the reckless Trump administration.”
Republicans immediately pounced on the move, blaming Biden for 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 Germany. The Biden administration waived sanctions on the company building Nord Stream 2 last month.
Business interests also lamented Keystone’s cancellation, saying it could discourage developers from pursuing other U.S. infrastructure projects subject to intensive permitting reviews.
There is an “opportunity cost for thousands of American workers, some of which already have lost their jobs on this project, and the communities along the pipeline route that would have received millions in tax revenue to support their schools and infrastructure,” Durbin said. “This episode is also a black mark for our relationship with our close ally to the north, Canada, and will have repercussions for our ability to attract private investment for years to come.”
(Updates with comments from environmentalists, Chamber from 10th paragraph)
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