Jan 24, 2017 - Energy & Environment
Facts Matter

What to know about Keystone XL

The issue

President Trump will sign an executive order today to resurrect construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

The facts

First proposed in 2010 by the private oil company TransCanada, Keystone XL is a pipeline from Alberta to Nebraska. Its proposed route has been changed multiple times to account for protests that it would run through Nebraska's environmentally sensitive Sandhills.

Construction of the pipeline would help further develop of Alberta's oil fields, which extract a form of oil called bitumen, which requires large-scale and often toxic methods for its extraction. TransCanada suspended its permitting process in 2015 after being unable to get it through the Obama administration, but said in November it still wants to do the project.

Why it matters

Short term: A win for Trump, as State Department estimates that the two year construction will create 42,000 jobs — playing right into Trump's "America first" policy — although only 35 of them will be permanent. A loss for environmental groups, who put so much into stopping the effort.

Long-term: A win for oil companies, as XL represents a major investment in Alberta's oil fields and creates a huge new supply of oil for U.S. refineries. But it's also a source for environmentalist organizers. As Nebraska environmentalist Jane Kleeb, who organized opposition to Keystone XL, put it: "We knew this would be coming. We stand and fight...."

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