Construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline was officially completed Wednesday, giving a major victory to environmentalists who had been fighting the project for more than a decade as they intensified their battles against the development of other fossil fuels.
The decision by TC Energy and the Alberta government to pull the plug on the $ 8 billion pipeline had been widely awaited after Joe Biden gave up permission to build his U.S. leg in one of his first acts of president.
“We remain disappointed and frustrated by the circumstances surrounding the Keystone XL project, including the cancellation of the presidential permit for the crossing of the gas pipeline,” said Jason Kenney, Alberta’s prime minister.
The project, which would have brought bitumen from the oil sands of northern Alberta to the Gulf Coast refineries, had faced opposition from the outset and has become symbolic of the political detachment for the future of fossil fuels in the United States.
It was blocked in 2015 by then-President Barack Obama who said it would undermine U.S. attempts to tackle climate change. But Donald Trump signed an order to push it forward during his first week in office. Biden’s decision to revoke the permit made a commitment made on the campaign track.
In Canada, where politicians had put pressure to keep the project alive, Biden’s decision was upheld greeted with dismay. This is especially true in Alberta, where the province had taken a $ 1.1 billion stake in the project and lent TC Energy another $ 4.7 billion to pay for construction. About 150 km of the pipeline had already been installed in the Canadian province.
The project employed about 2,500 people in the United States and Alberta during the peak of construction last year. But construction activity had been suspended since Biden’s decision to revoke the permit.
Production from Canada’s ultra-heavy oil depots is more carbon-intensive than most other forms of crude, making Keystone a target for environmentalists, who argue that new gas projects will encourage continued production. of fossil fuels at a time when the world needs to reduce its emissions.
“Keystone XL has been a symbol for the challenges the industry has faced in obtaining permits for high-profile projects built not only in western Canada, but in North America,” said the Moody’s analyst. Gavin MacFarlane.
Other pipeline projects have also faced serious opposition. The expansion of Enbridge’s Line 3, which would bring even more Canadian oil to the south, has seen clashes between environmentalists and police in recent days. And the future of the Dakota Access pipeline, which transports oil from the Bakken shale patch in North Dakota to the rest of the United States, remains undecided after a judge he ordered a new environmental review.
Utilities Dominion Energy and Duke Energy last year discarded the $ 8 billion Atlantic Coast pipeline project after prolonged litigation and delays sent costs upward.
Wednesday’s capitulation was welcomed by environmental groups, which have promised to continue the fight against gas pipelines in other parts of the United States.
“The fight to stop Keystone XL has never been on a pipeline,” said Kendall Mackey, campaign director at 350.org. “The completion of this zombie pipeline sets a precedent for President Biden and the polluters to plant Line 3, Dakota Access, and all fossil fuel projects.”