Long before it broke ground in 2015, the Keystone XL pipeline, the final phase of the Canada-wise Keystone network of pipelines, has been controversial. It would have begun in Alberta, crossed the Canada-U.S. Border at Morgan, Montana, and traveled to a junction with American pipelines in Baker, Montana. There, American-produced oil would be added to the flow. The pipeline would then travel further south through South Dakota and Nebraska and all the way to Texas.
TC Energy, which owns the pipelines, was implicated in a number of dubiously legal and illegal eminent domain seizures of privately-owned land in Texas and South Dakota as it sought to secure its route. In one, 78-year-old landowner Eleanor Fairchild was arrested for criminal trespass on her own lawn as she stood in front of pipeline construction equipment. Fairchild accused the company of forging her signature on sale documents. The sale was vacated, but TC Energy was granted her property by eminent domain regardless.
Keystone XL really hit world headlines when several thousand protesters formed a human chain around the White House to seek President Obama’s support in 2011. In 2012, the protests at the Tar Sands in Texas began, and approximately 50,000 protesters joined the site over the next three years. Many of them were Native American. The pipeline, in avoiding high-population areas, is routed through a number of places that are either environmentally or culturally sensitive to the indigenous peoples of the Central U.S.
President Obama pulled the pipeline’s authorization in 2015. President Trump restored it in 2016 and again in 2020, one of his last acts in office. President Biden cancelled the project’s permit to cross the corridor on his first day in office, as he’d promised to do.
On Wednesday, June 11, TC Energy flew the white flag. The company announced that it would work with environmental agencies to “ensure a safe termination of and exit” from the partially built line, which has already been the cause of several oil spills even in its unfinished state.
Photo: An aerial view of pipeline segments on rail cars. Credit: STEPHEN B. THORNTON / Shutterstock.com