Stop Keystone XL
Stop Keystone XL: a protest opposing the pipeline project (Photo: Chesapeake Climate)

This day has been a long time in the mak­ing, but it’s final­ly arrived.

At long last, we can say that one of the most immoral, cli­mate destroy­ing projects in mod­ern times has been scrapped. The Key­stone XL pipeline has met its demise!

Good rid­dance, we say.

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.”


In the end, not even Don­ald Trump’s four year occu­pa­tion of the White House could save the envi­ron­men­tal­ly destruc­tive, long trou­bled pipeline project.

“TC Ener­gy Cor­po­ra­tion con­firmed today that after a com­pre­hen­sive review of its options, and in con­sul­ta­tion with its part­ner, the Gov­ern­ment of Alber­ta, it has ter­mi­nat­ed the Key­stone XL Pipeline Project (the Project),” the com­pa­ny said in a state­ment post­ed to its web­site and dis­trib­uted through P.R. chan­nels.

“Con­struc­tion activ­i­ties to advance the Project were sus­pend­ed fol­low­ing the revo­ca­tion of its Pres­i­den­tial Per­mit on Jan­u­ary 20th, 2021.”

“The Com­pa­ny will con­tin­ue to coor­di­nate with reg­u­la­tors, stake­hold­ers and Indige­nous groups to meet its envi­ron­men­tal and reg­u­la­to­ry com­mit­ments and ensure a safe ter­mi­na­tion of and exit from the Project.”

Key­stone XL rep­re­sent­ed an effort by extreme­ly pow­er­ful, pol­lut­ing inter­ests to keep the Unit­ed States and Cana­da wed­ded to fos­sil fuels, while increas­ing the prof­its of bil­lion­aires like the Koch broth­ers, who are already very wealthy.

The pipeline’s boost­ers repeat­ed­ly sought to steam­roll Native Amer­i­can tribes and farm­ers in their attempts to seize right of way for the trans­port of oil from the dirty tar sands of Alber­ta. Although Pres­i­dent Oba­ma denied TC Ener­gy a per­mit to build the pipeline in 2015, the com­pa­ny did not give up. It found the ally it need­ed less than two years lat­er in 2017, when Don­ald Trump gained power.

But Trump did not remain in the White House long enough to save the pipeline.

Upon arriv­ing at 1600 Penn­syl­va­nia Avenue on Jan­u­ary 20th, Joe Biden pro­ceed­ed to prompt­ly revoke the Unit­ed States’ sup­port for the pipeline project.

Many pipeline boost­ers held out hope that the new admin­is­tra­tion’s oppo­si­tion could be over­come. But even­tu­al­ly, TC Ener­gy con­clud­ed it couldn’t.

The pipeline’s demise is a blow to oil-addict­ed politi­cians like Alber­ta Pre­mier Jason Ken­ney. Ken­ney was so deter­mined to see the pipeline built that he involved the tax­pay­ers of Alber­ta in the project.

“Today’s loss is anoth­er exam­ple of how Jason Ken­ney has failed our ener­gy sec­tor,” NDP ener­gy crit­ic Kath­leen Gan­ley said in a news release.

“From his embar­rass­ing war room to his over­due and over-bud­get inquiry, he’s failed to cre­ate jobs,” Gan­ley added, refer­ring to Ken­ney’s use of tax­pay­er funds to pro­mote his oil agen­da and “inves­ti­gate” for­eign based envi­ron­men­tal groups.

“Now, his mis­man­age­ment and com­plete incom­pe­tence on this file has cost the peo­ple of Alber­ta north of $1 bil­lion,” Gan­ley added.

Sev­er­al Cana­di­an oil boost­ers said it was time to focus on oth­er projects.

“Instead of bemoan­ing the can­cel­la­tion of Key­stone XL, how­ev­er, Cana­da should see this as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to put more empha­sis on direct access to off­shore mar­kets. Specif­i­cal­ly, the TMX pipeline will allow Cana­da to take advan­tage of direct exports to key mar­kets in the Indo-Pacif­ic,” wrote Jeff Kuchars­ki, a con­trib­u­tor to The Globe and Mail, Canada’s news­pa­per of record.

The TMX project is a grave threat to the envi­ron­men­tal health of the Pacif­ic North­west, and is mov­ing for­ward over the objec­tions of the peo­ple of British Colum­bia and their NDP-led gov­ern­ment thanks to a bad rul­ing by Canada’s Supreme Court. Last year, Tran­sCanada’s CEO admit­ted that the TMX pipeline expan­sion has bal­looned in cost, from around $7.4 bil­lion to $12.6 billion.

Like the exist­ing pipeline, TMX’s planned ter­mi­nus is in Burn­a­by, a port in the Sal­ish Sea, across the mar­itime bor­der from Wash­ing­ton State waters.

The Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment, under Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, has also approved a slew of oth­er pipeline projects despite claim­ing to be com­mit­ted to reduc­ing emis­sions and cli­mate dam­age. Trudeau’s crit­ics say he has done very lit­tle to lead on cli­mate. The Prime Min­is­ter’s pledges and green talk are fierce­ly belied by his repeat­ed advo­ca­cy for oil pipelines, includ­ing Key­stone XL.

In the case of TMX, Trudeau became the pipeline’s eleventh hour sav­ior when he arranged for the Gov­ern­ment of Cana­da to buy the pipeline from Hous­ton-based Kinder Mor­gan. TMX is now owned and con­trolled by Cana­da Devel­op­ment Invest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (CDEV), a Crown corporation.

As impor­tant as Key­stone XL’s demise is, it’s essen­tial to remem­ber that there are oth­er very destruc­tive oil pipeline projects mov­ing for­ward right now that need to be stopped. The Earth­’s cli­mate has already been cat­a­stroph­i­cal­ly dam­aged; it’s up to us to pre­vent our com­mon home from becom­ing fur­ther imperiled.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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