Energy & Environment

Developer Abandons Keystone XL Pipeline Project, Ending Decade-Long Battle

TC Energy suspended construction in January when President Biden revoked a key permit. The controversial project was a major flashpoint in the debate over fossil fuels’ role in climate change.


Al Nash/Bureau of Land Management via AP
A storage yard is seen in Montana for pipe that was to be used in the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The developer has now canceled the controversial project.

The company behind the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline said Wednesday it’s officially terminating the project. TC Energy already had suspended construction in January when President Biden revoked a key cross-border presidential permit. The announcement ends a more than decade-long battle that came to signify the debate over whether fossil fuels should be left in the ground to address climate change.

Environmentalists opposed the pipeline in part because of the oil it would carry— oil sands crude from Alberta. It requires more processing than most oil, so producing it emits more greenhouse gases.

TC Energy had begun construction on the pipeline last year and said about 300 miles of the $8 billion project had been built. It would have carried oil from landlocked Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Keystone XL supporters, including most of the oil industry, said the pipeline construction would have created much-needed construction jobs.

“It’s unfortunate that political obstructionism led to the termination of the Keystone XL pipeline. This is a blow to U.S. energy security and a blow to the thousands of good-paying union jobs this project would have supported,” said Robin Rorick, American Petroleum Institute vice president of midstream and industry operations.

The oil industry and its allies have claimed that Keystone XL would have created hundreds or even thousands of jobs. Most of those positions would have been temporary construction jobs. The State Department estimated full-time permanent jobs to be closer to 50.

Climate activists cheered the decision.

“For 13 years, an international movement of frontline communities in the U.S. and Canada, Indigenous leaders, and environmentalists fought back against this terrible proposed project at every turn,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement. “Today, we can say yet again, that our efforts were a resounding success.”

Keystone XL would have passed through Nebraska, and for years, a coalition of Indigenous tribes, ranchers and local environmentalists demonstrated, lobbied and sued to halt the pipeline’s construction. Its proposed route in Nebraska cut through the Ogallala Aquifer, the groundwater source for millions of Plains states residents.

The pipeline’s opponents in Nebraska feared that any leak from Keystone XL would damage the critical aquifer, and they welcomed the end of the project. “On behalf of our Ponca Nation we welcome this long overdue news and thank all who worked so tirelessly to educate and fight to prevent this from coming to fruition. It’s a great day for Mother Earth,” Larry Wright Jr., chairman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, said in a statement.

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