Keystone XL is officially dead

The pipeline's developer has pulled the plug on the controversial project at last.

The final nail in the coffin for the nearly-dead Keystone XL pipeline was hit yesterday—TC Energy Corp, the developer behind the controversial oil pipeline, officially canceled the project. This comes just a few months after President Biden revoked the permit for Keystone XL to pass over the US-Canada border in January, which brought the 13-year-long-development to a screeching halt. The $8 billion pipeline was supposed to pump 830,000 barrels of Alberta crude oil sands to Nebraska every day, which would then be sent down to Texas.

Environmental groups and activists, who have protested the development of the pipeline for more than a decade, are calling the official end of the pipeline a victory. 

“When this fight began, people thought Big Oil couldn’t be beat,’’ Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, told the Wall Street Journal. “But when enough people rise up, we’re stronger even than the richest fossil-fuel companies.”

President Obama first rejected the pipeline in 2012, and later vetoed a bill approved by the Senate to build the pipeline in 2015. Still, TTC was able to build the southern leg of the pipeline that ran between Oklahoma and Texas which did not require State Department approval. Two years later, Trump signed the project back into life.  

The pipeline was envisioned to be a “green” pipeline, as PopSci has previously reported, but in reality, the pipeline operations would produce 1.44 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, about as much as the annual emissions from 300,000 passenger cars. Not to mention, the thick Canadian oilsands being used for fuel required immense energy to extract in the first place.

“Building projects like Keystone XL incentivizes the greenlighting of new Tar Sands production projects,” Anthony Swift, the director of the Canada Project for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) told PopSci in February. “These would have to be shut down within a few years if we are to meet our climate goals.”

TC Energy has stated that the decision was made after a “comprehensive review of its options,” and expressed gratitude for its partnerships with the Government of Canada, pipeline building trade unions, local communities, and Indigenous groups, amongst others. Indigenous people have been some of the most prevalent voices against the building of the pipeline, as it would disrupt tribal lands and harm vulnerable people

“We took on a multi-billion dollar corporation and we won!” tweeted Dallas Goldtooth of the nonprofit Indigenous Environmental Network. “The People made this happen!”

Still, as protests broke out earlier this week against Enbridge’s Line 3 project in Minnesota, it’s clear that the battle between environmentalists and oil companies is far from over.

Sara Kiley Watson

Sara Kiley Watsonis an assistant editor at PopSci. Her work has also been featured in NPR and Business Insider. Contact the author here.