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Developer Abandons Keystone XL Pipeline Project, Ending Decade-Long Battle

A storage yard is seen in Montana for pipe that was to be used in the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The developer has now canceled the controversial project.
Al Nash
Bureau of Land Management via AP
A storage yard is seen in Montana for pipe that was to be used in the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The developer has now canceled the controversial project.

TC Energy suspended construction in January when President Biden revoked a key permit. The controversial project was a major flashpoint in the debate over fossil fuels' role in climate change.

The company behind the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline saidWednesday it's officially terminating the project. TC Energy already had suspended construction in January when President Biden revoked a key cross-border presidential permit. The announcement ends a more than decade-long battle that came to signify the debate over whether fossil fuels should be left in the ground to address climate change.

Environmentalists opposed the pipeline in part because of the oil it would carry— oil sands crude from Alberta. It requires more processing than most oil, so producing it emits more greenhouse gases.

TC Energy had begun construction on the pipeline last year and said about 300 miles of the $8 billion project had been built. It would have carried oil from landlocked Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Keystone XL supporters, including most of the oil industry, said the pipeline construction would have created much-needed construction jobs.

"It's unfortunate that political obstructionism led to the termination of the Keystone XL pipeline. 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," said Robin Rorick, American Petroleum Institute vice president of midstream and industry operations.

The oil industry and its allies have claimed that Keystone XL would have created hundreds or even thousands of jobs. Most of those positions would have been temporary construction jobs. The State Department estimated full-time permanent jobs to be closer to 50.

Climate activists cheered the decision.

"For 13 years, an international movement of frontline communities in the U.S. and Canada, Indigenous leaders, and environmentalists fought back against this terrible proposed project at every turn," Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement. "Today, we can say yet again, that our efforts were a resounding success."

Keystone XL would have passed through Nebraska, and for years, a coalition of Indigenous tribes, ranchers and local environmentalists demonstrated, lobbied and sued to halt the pipeline's construction. Its proposed route in Nebraska cut through the Ogallala Aquifer, the groundwater source for millions of Plains states residents.

The pipeline's opponents in Nebraska feared that any leak from Keystone XL would damage the critical aquifer, and they welcomed the end of the project. "On behalf of our Ponca Nation we welcome this long overdue news and thank all who worked so tirelessly to educate and fight to prevent this from coming to fruition. It's a great day for Mother Earth," Larry Wright Jr., chairman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, said in a statement.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jeff Brady
Jeff Brady is a National Desk Correspondent based in Philadelphia, where he covers energy issues, climate change and the mid-Atlantic region. Brady helped establish NPR's environment and energy collaborative which brings together NPR and Member station reporters from across the country to cover the big stories involving the natural world.
Neela Banerjee
Neela Banerjee is NPR's Deputy Senior Supervising Climate Editor, tasked with working across the newsroom to lead the network's broad climate coverage. Before starting at NPR in April 2020, Banerjee spent five years as senior correspondent at Inside Climate News, where she led the team that revealed how Exxon had conducted its own ambitious climate research as far back as the mid-1970s. The Exxon project spurred public interest lawsuits, won more than a dozen national journalism awards and was a finalist for 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service Reporting. Before ICN, Banerjee was the energy and environment reporter in the Los Angeles Times' Washington, D.C., bureau. Prior to that, she was a reporter for The New York Times and had beats as diverse as global energy, the Iraq war and faith in America. She began her journalism career at The Wall Street Journal, where she served mostly as a Russia correspondent. Banerjee grew up all over the U.S., but primarily in southeast Louisiana, and is a graduate of Yale University.