TC Energy announced Wednesday that it is officially terminating its Keystone XL oil pipeline. The controversial project planned to carry oil sands crude from Alberta all the way down to Texas’ gulf coast.
Reactions, predictably, were mixed. “The era of building fossil fuel pipelines without scrutiny of their potential impact on climate change and on local communities is over,” said Anthony Swift, director of NRDC’s Canada project. “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.”
Meanwhile, the American Petroleum Institute (API) was less enthusiastic. “It’s unfortunate that political obstructionism led to the termination of the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Robin Rorick, API’s vice president of midstream and industry operations. “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.”
Construction was already suspended in January, when President Biden started his term by revoking a key cross-border permit. Environmentalists find oil sands especially objectionable, as the mixture of sand, water, clay and bitumen requires a lot of processing and emits mega amounts greenhouse gases. Bitumen is a type of oil that is so thick, it’s been compared to cold molasses, hence the often used but incorrect term “tar sands.” To reach the bitumen, workers reduce Alberta’s boreal forests to hideous strip mines.
Keystone XL was especially unpopular in Nebraska, one of the states it would have passed through. There, Indigenous tribes, ranchers and local environmentalists formed a coalition to block the pipeline, which they feared would cut through the crucial Ogallala Aquifer. Many Plains states residents rely on this water.
“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,” said Larry Wright Jr., chairman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, in a statement.
Image via Pax Ahimsa Gethen