Keystone XL Pipeline

The firm behind the Keystone XL pipeline officially scrapped the project on Wednesday, months after President Biden revoked a cross-border permit for the controversial pipeline and more than a decade after political wrangling over its fate began.

GASCOYNE, ND - OCTOBER 14: Miles of unused pipe, prepared for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, sit in a lot on October 14, 2014 outside Gascoyne, North Dakota. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images) © Andrew Burton/Getty Images GASCOYNE, ND - OCTOBER 14: Miles of unused pipe, prepared for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, sit in a lot on October 14, 2014 outside Gascoyne, North Dakota. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The pipeline, which would have stretched from Alberta’s boreal forests to the refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast, became the center of a broader controversy over climate change, pipeline safety, eminent domain and jobs. Those same concerns have spawned similar battles to stop pipelines in states including Montana, Minnesota and Virginia, part of an effort to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

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The Keystone XL project also took on special significance because of the sea change in public and business attitudes toward climate change. The process of extracting bitumen-like oil from the thick tar sands consumes enormous amounts of energy — a combination of strip mining and underground steam injection — and exacerbates the impact on the planet’s atmosphere.

TC Energy said in a statement that it decided along with the government of Alberta to end the multibillion-dollar pipeline.

Activists who have spent more than a decade hoping to bury the project for good reacted with joy at the news Wednesday.

“When this fight began, people thought Big Oil couldn’t be beat,” said Bill McKibben, who led sit-ins against Keystone XL in 2011 at the White House. “But when enough people rise up we’re stronger even than the richest fossil fuel companies.”

Activists arrested at White House protesting Keystone pipeline

Republicans and oil and gas industry officials decried the news, hammering Biden for putting the nail in the pipeline’s coffin. They argue that the project would have provided thousands of construction jobs. However, with most of the pipeline construction complete, including the fully operating southern leg, relatively few jobs are still at stake.

“It’s beyond clear that President Biden is beholden to extreme environmentalists, and Montanans and the American people are bearing the burden,” Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) said in a statement Wednesday.

Robin Rorick, vice president of midstream and industry operations at the American Petroleum Institute, an industry trade group that had backed the project, chalked up its demise to “political obstructionism.”

“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,” Rorick said.

But Democrats defended the death of the pipeline.

“The rushed approval of the Keystone Pipeline by the previous administration was a terrible idea,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said in a statement. “I’m grateful for the tireless efforts of Native American communities, environmental justice groups and advocates that fought this dangerous pipeline for years. This is their victory.”


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