After a decade of protests, Keystone XL Pipeline project ends

11 Juni 2021

In a decision that some North American environmental activists waited years to see, the company behind the Keystone XL Pipeline project announced termination of its plans to complete nearly 2,000 kilometers of pipeline to transport crude oil from Canada into the United States.

“We value the strong relationships we’ve built through the development of this project and the experience we’ve gained,” said TC Energy CEO François Poirier, in a statement confirming the news late Wednesday. “We remain grateful to the many organizations that supported the project and would have shared in its benefits.”

The project was first proposed in 2008 but came under pressure from environmentalists as early as 2010. The route ran from Hardisty, Alberta and the region’s tar sand operations, and crossed into the southwest corner of Saskatchewan before entering the U.S. states of Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. It would then connect with existing pipelines that ran south to Texas and Gulf of Mexico refineries and ports.

Parts of the line were completed, but as opposition to the Keystone project and the broader climate impacts of fossil fuels mounted, the pipeline became a high-profile point of contention. U.S. officials stalled the regulatory process a decade ago, with former president Barack Obama effectively ending the construction process in 2015.

The Donald Trump administration reversed the decision, but President Joe Biden revoked a special permit issued for the Keystone project on his first day in office in January – a turning point noted by TC Energy as key to their decision to end construction.

“The United States and the world face a climate crisis.  That crisis must be met with action on a scale and at a speed commensurate with the need to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory,” said Biden in his revocation of the project permit. “Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my administration’s economic and climate imperatives.”

Across its long trajectory, the Keystone Pipeline project was opposed by thousands of climate activists in both Canada and the U.S., many of whom were arrested during protests that spanned years. TC Energy worked with some 34 indigenous communities in both nations, including a $1 billion partnership deal with Natural Law Energy – a company made up of five native groups – but news of the project’s demise was welcomed by many leaders.

“After more than ten years we have finally defeated an oil and gas giant!” said the Indigenous Environmental Network, based in the U.S. state of Minnesota. “From the Tar Sands to the Gulf we stood in hand-in-hand to protect the next seven generations of life, the water and our communities. This is not the end, but merely the beginning of further victories. We know this in our hearts.”

And Bill McKibben, the globally prominent clean-energy advocate and founder of, noted how far the movement has come since the first protests against the pipeline.

“Just a reminder that ten years ago this summer, when mass arrests began in the Keystone fight, 93 percent of ‘insiders’ said the project would be approved,” McKibben told his social media followers.

“Today TC Energy threw in the towel for good. Never ever give up.”

Keystone XL Map
Image: Keystone XL


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