Jun 9, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The Keystone XL pipeline is officially dead

Keystone Pipeline

A tanker truck trailer in a field along the Keystone XL pipeline route near Oyen, Alberta, Canada, on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images

The developer of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline abandoned the project Wednesday after a decade-plus effort.

Why it matters: TC Energy's decision ends one of the century's highest profile battles over climate change and energy. But the move is unsurprising.

  • President Biden canceled a cross-border permit in January, prompting TC Energy to suspend construction on the project that would bring hundreds of thousands of barrels per day from Alberta, Canada, to U.S. markets.
  • In addition to strong public and legal opposition from activists, market forces including the U.S. domestic production boom helped sap the project's momentum.

What they're saying: "This project is finally being abandoned thanks to more than a decade of resistance from Indigenous communities, landowners, farmers, ranchers, and climate activists along its route and around the world," said David Turnbull of Oil Change International in a statement.

Yes, but via Reuters: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said: “We remain disappointed and frustrated with the circumstances surrounding the Keystone XL project, including the cancellation of the presidential permit for the pipeline’s border crossing,”

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also supported the project.

Republicans revived criticism of Biden for yanking the project's permit. "President Biden killed the Keystone XL Pipeline and with it, thousands of good-paying American jobs,” said Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate's energy committee.

Catch up quick: TC Energy, then called TransCanada, first proposed the 1,200 mile pipeline well over a decade ago, but resistance mounted throughout the Obama administration.

  • President Obama rejected it in late 2015 after a drawn-out review, claiming approval would undercut U.S. leadership on climate change (among other reasons).

The decision came despite a State Department finding that approving or denying the project would not have a major effect on emissions because it was unlikely to affect the rate of oil sands extraction.

President Trump revived the project in 2017, but it still faced legal battles.

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