TC Energy Cancels Keystone XL Pipeline

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More than a decade ago, TC Energy, which at the time was called TransCanada, began planning for the Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from the Alberta tar sands to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would be trans-shipped to various US refineries, many of them along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. If built, the pipeline would have carried more than 35 million gallons a day of the foulest, dirtiest oil to be found anywhere in the galaxy.

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden did two things — he rejoined the Paris climate treaty and cancelled the permit that allowed the Keystone XL pipeline to cross the US border, saying if allowed to proceed, the pipeline “would not be consistent with my administration’s economic and climate imperatives.” Canadian government protested long and loudly, but to no avail. The project that was supposed to cost under $5 billion had ballooned to nearly double that amount, thanks to determined opposition from environmental groups and Indigenous communities.

The reaction from politicians was predictable. Senator John Barasso of Wyoming huffed, “President Biden killed the Keystone XL Pipeline and with it, thousands of good-paying American jobs,” reports the Associated Press. “It’s unfortunate that political obstructionism led to the termination of the Keystone XL Pipeline,” Robin Rorick, vice president of midstream and industry operations at the American Petroleum Institute, told CNN. “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.”

The attorneys general of 21 Republican-controlled states sued the administration for cancelling the cross-border permit. Now that suit has been rendered moot, as TC Energy has thrown in the towel.

Profits, Jobs, And The Environment

oil pipeline Keystone XL (Athabasca oil sands, Canada)
Alberta tar sands. Credit: NASA

The Keystone XL pipeline illustrates the tension between business and environment. The political leaders of Alberta have staked that province’s economic future on developing its tar sands, the dirtiest oil on Earth. “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,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said in a statement.

Nobody wants to see people lose their jobs, but do corporations have the right to pollute the environment and make hundreds of thousands of people sick in pursuit of profits? Surely the people who build pipelines can build other things, like wind turbines and solar farms, no?

A second TC Energy pipeline network, known simply as Keystone, has been delivering crude from Canada’s oil sands since 2010. The company says on its website that pipeline has moved more than 3 billion barrels of crude from Alberta to an oil distribution site in Cushing, Oklahoma.

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The Earth Breathes A Sigh Of Relief

“The cancellation of Keystone XL is a reminder that this project was never needed and never in the public interest, and that it is time for the fossil fuel era to rapidly come to a close,” David Turnbull, strategic communications director with Oil Change International, said in a statement.

There could be knock-on effects from the collapse of the Keystone XL pipeline. “The termination of this zombie pipeline sets precedent for President Biden and polluters to stop Line 3, Dakota Access, and all fossil fuel projects,” Kendall Mackey, campaign manager of’s Keep It in the Ground campaign, said in a statement.

The demise of Keystone XL coupled with the drubbing taken by Big Oil in court and in investment circles recently all suggest that fossil fuels are on the downslope worldwide … and not a moment too soon.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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