It took nearly five months, after U.S. President Joe Biden dealt a death blow to the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office. But Calgary-based pipeliner TC Energy finally, formally cancelled the project this week, acknowledging that a decade-long fight has come to an end.
The announcement leaves Alberta taxpayers on the hook for C$1.3 billion, CBC reports, after the Jason Kenney government’s decision to offer the pipeline up to $8 billion in equity investments and loan guarantees.
“Just a reminder that 10 years ago this summer, when mass arrests began in the Keystone fight, 93% of ‘insiders’ said the project would be approved,” tweeted 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, citing an article in National Journal. “Today TC Energy threw in the towel for good. Never, ever give up.”
“This is a landmark moment in the fight against the #ClimateCrisis,” agreed the U.S. Center for Biological Diversity.
“After more than 10 years of organizing we have finally defeated an oil giant, Keystone XL is dead!” the Indigenous Environmental Network wrote in a release. “We are dancing in our hearts because of this victory! From Dene territories in Northern Alberta to Indigenous lands along the Gulf of Mexico, we stood hand-in-hand to protect the next seven generations of life, the water, and our communities from this dirty tar sands pipeline. And that struggle is vindicated. This is not the end—but merely the beginning of further victories.”
“Pipeline fighters never gave up, even after President Biden stood with us, and we knew locally the fight was not over until TransCanada waved the white flag,” said Bold Nebraska founder Jane Kleeb. But she warned that farmers and ranchers along the pipeline route will still face “an eminent domain land grab by a foreign corporation” until the Nebraska Public Service Commission revokes TC’s state permit.
In a release, TC Energy President and CEO François Poirier touted the “strong relationships we’ve built through the development of this project and the experience we’ve gained,” including “meaningful Indigenous equity opportunities” it put in place. He said the company “will continue to identify opportunities to apply this level of ingenuity across our business going forward, including our current evaluation of the potential to power existing U.S. assets with renewable energy.”
“If completed, the 1,897-kilometre pipeline, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from Hardisty, Alberta, to Nebraska. It would then connect with the original Keystone that runs to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast,” CBC writes. “That investment vaporized when the Biden administration in the U.S. cancelled the permit for the project on its first day in office.”
The pipeliner and the province “said they would look at their options in the wake of the cancellation, but TC Energy said the pipeline extension was officially dead as of Wednesday,” the national broadcaster adds. “The company said in a news release that it 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.”
Last week, retired TC Energy executive Dennis McConaghy told CBC the company would likely opt to leave about 150 kilometres of the partially-built pipeline in the ground—at least temporarily, likely permanently.
“They’re going to now try to restore the topography back to what it looked like before they dug the trench. The only difference being, they will still leave the pipe in the ground, for now,” he said.
“Our first priority is to make sure we wind down construction activities safely and with care for the environment and that is what we continue to focus on,” the company told CBC News in an email. “A longer-term plan is being developed to deal with the assets that have already been constructed and we continue to evaluate our options.”