‘Keystone XL Is Dead!’: After 10-Year Battle, Climate Movement Victory Over Tar Sands Pipeline Is Complete
“Keystone XL is now the most famous fossil fuel project killed by the climate movement,’ said one veteran campaigner, “but it won’t be the last.”
By JON QUEALLY
After more than a decade of grassroots organizing, agitation, and tireless opposition by the international climate movement, the final nail was slammed into the Keystone XL’s coffin Wednesday afternoon when the company behind the transnational tar sands pipeline officially pulled the plug on its plans.
“This victory is thanks to Indigenous land defenders who fought the Keystone XL pipeline for over a decade.” —Clayton Thomas Muller, 350.org
Following consultation with Canadian officials and regulators—including “its partner, the Government of Alberta”—TC Energy confirmed its “termination” of the project in a statement citing the revocation of a federal U.S. permit by President Joe Biden on his first day in office on January 20 as the leading reason.
Climate campaigners, however, were immediate in claiming a final victory after years of struggle against the company and its backers both in Washington, D.C. and Ottawa.
“TC Energy just confirmed what we already knew but it’s a thrilling reality all the same—the Keystone XL pipeline is no more and never will be,” said David Turnbull, strategic communications director with Oil Change International (OCI).
“After more than 10 years of organizing we have finally defeated an oil giant, Keystone XL is dead!” declared the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) in reaction. “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.”
IEN said that the win over TC Energy and its supporters was “not the end—but merely the beginning of further victories,” and also reminded the world that there are “still frontline Indigenous water protectors like Oscar High Elk who face charges for standing against the Keystone XL pipeline.”
Calling the news “yet another huge moment in an historic effort,” Turnbull at OCI said that while the Canadian company’s press statement failed to admit it, “this project is finally being abandoned thanks to more than a decade of resistance from Indigenous communities, landowners, farmers, ranchers, and climate activists along its route and around the world.”
Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, declared the victory in the drawn-out battle—which largely took place under the Democratic administration of former President Barack Obama—”a landmark moment in the fight against the climate crisis.”
“We need to keep moving away from dirty, dangerous pipelines that lock us into an unsustainable future,” added Margolis, who said he now hopes President Joe Biden will take this lesson and apply to other polluting fossil projects. “We’re hopeful that the Biden administration will continue to shift this country in the right direction by opposing fossil fuel projects that threaten our climate, our waters and imperiled wildlife,” he said. “Good riddance to Keystone XL!”
Jamie Henn and Bill McKibben, both co-founders of 350.org and key architects of the decision to make the Keystone XL pipeline a target and symbol of the global climate movement, also heralded the news.
“When this fight began, people thought Big Oil couldn’t be beat.” —Bill McKibben, 350.org co-founder
“When this fight began, people thought Big Oil couldn’t be beat,” said McKibben, who was among those arrested outside the White House in 2011 protesting the pipeline.
“Keystone XL is now the most famous fossil fuel project killed by the climate movement, but it won’t be the last,” said Henn. “The same coalition that stopped this pipeline is now battling Line 3 and dozens of other fossil fuel projects across the country. Biden did the right thing on KXL, now it’s time to go a step further and say no to all new fossil fuel projects everywhere.”
Clayton Thomas Muller, another longtime KXL opponent and currently a senior campaigns specialist at 350.org in Canada, said: “This victory is thanks to Indigenous land defenders who fought the Keystone XL pipeline for over a decade. Indigenous-led resistance is critical in the fight against the climate crisis and we need to follow the lead of Indigenous peoples, particularly Indigenous women, who are leading this fight across the continent and around the world. With Keystone XL cancelled, it’s time to turn our attention to the Indigenous-led resistance to the Line 3 and the Trans Mountain tar sands pipelines.”
McKibben also made the direct connection to KXL and the decision now looming before Biden when it comes to Line 3 in northern Minnesota. “When enough people rise up we’re stronger even than the richest fossil fuel companies,” he said. “And by the way, the same climate test that ruled out Keystone should do the same for Line 3.”
This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).