A lot of people do not fully understand what the Keystone Pipeline is and how it all got started, so an article seems appropriate.
What is the Keystone project?
Ever since it was launched in 2008, the Keystone pipeline, also known as Keystone XL, has been the largest transporter of fossils from Canada to the US market. The project is owned and operated by TC Energy Company, which was previously known as TransCanada. The pipeline consists of three completed phases phase I, phase II, and Phase III transporting an estimated 550,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Canada to the United States. Keystone project phase IV, also known as Keystone XL, is a proposed extension of the pipeline to transport an estimated 830,000 barrels daily while creating an estimated 10,000 jobs annually.
The proposed Keystone project phase IV has faced a myriad of oppositions from climate scientists, pro-climate political leaders, climate-conscious Hollywood stars, and the local community living in Alberta, where the oil sands are located. On his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order canceling the permit to construct the pipeline across the US border, putting an end to the push and pull between democrats and republicans. However, time will tell whether the project will be revived on not.
Timeline of the Keystone Pipeline project The project was proposed in 2005 by the TransCanada corporation and approved by the Canadian National energy board commission in 2007. Construction began in 2007 after approval by the commission despite criticism and opposition by union leaders, including union president Dave Coles. In 2008, President George Bush, in his final year in office, gave approval authorizing the construction and maintenance of the pipeline across the US and Canada border. The pipeline’s construction would take another two years to be completed stretching from Alberta, Canada, to Illinois (Patoka) in the United States, a distance of 3,456 kilometers. By June 2010, the pipeline began to operationalize 530,000 barrels of tar crude oil (the dirtiest form of crude oil on earth.)
In July 2010, barely a month after launching operation, the project started facing opposition. Environmental protection energy was the first agency to oppose the project, citing a lack of proper environmental assessment. Climate change, disproportional emission of carbon dioxide, destruction of wildlife and ecosystems, and displacing rural communities in Alberta where tar sands are mined are some leading reasons for opposing the project. Other environmental conservationists, including civil society, NASA scientists, and university intellectuals, weighed in on opposing the project, culminating in the postponement of the Department of state’s final decision in 2011. The Keystone project later became a campaign tool during President Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012. In November 2015, President Obama issued an executive order denying the Transcanada Corporation a permit to continue constructing Keystone phase IV. This setback was short-lived since President Donald Trump revived its construction in March 2017, putting the project back on track. In February 2021, President Joe Biden issued an executive order revoking an order issued by President Trump to stop the pipeline’s construction.
Keystone project contribution to climate change
Keystone project opposition stems from the fact that it is considered one of the most significant contributors to climate change and destruction of wildlife, as well as contribution to water, air, and soil pollution. Tar sands are considered the dirtiest form of crude oil with the lowest return on investment (EROI). The exploitation of tar sands uses methods like surface mining deemed to be harmful to the environment. Surface mining involves deforestation, diverting rivers, scrubbing soil and vegetation, and releasing harmful substances into the ground, destroying wildlife. The process depletes freshwater, creates massive bonds containing toxic water, destroys agricultural land, and threatens the indigenous communities’ health. Petroleum coke, a by-product of the mining process, is considered hazardous which cancer-causing components. By promoting tar sand mining, the Keystone project has been ranked as the most detrimental project in the road towards clean, renewable energy.
Proponents of the project argue that the project creates jobs for the construction workers while contributing an estimated 2.4 billion dollars to Canada’s GDP and another 3.45 billion dollars to US GDP. Opponents of the project, including President Joe Biden, have argued that alternative clean energy projects will earn the revenue and jobs. Whether this will be achieved or not is a matter of time.
Future of Keystone project
For now, the project is halted completely. President of TransCanada Corporation, Russ Girling, believes that the project is facing another huddle. The construction may have been stopped, but the founders’ dream remains alive as they await further instructions from the White House.