TC Energy, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, said Wednesday it is pulling the plug on the contentious project after Canadian officials failed to persuade President Joe Biden to reverse his cancellation of its permit on the day he took office.
Calgary-based TC Energy said it would work with government agencies “to ensure a safe termination of and exit from” the partially built line, which was to transport crude from the oil sand fields of western Canada to Steele City near the Nebraska-Kansas border.
Though the pipeline was to run through three states, it was environmentalists in Nebraska who were often leading the challenge.
“After a decade, it is a good day that TransCanada has realized that there is no future in tar sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline," said Art Tanderup, who farms along the Keystone XL route near Neligh and organized protests against the project.
Tanderup said it is imperative that all permits granted in Nebraska be revoked, specifically the Nebraska Public Service Commission’s permit to TC Energy approved amid legal and legislative battles.
First proposed in 2008, the pipeline has become emblematic of the tensions between economic development and curbing the fossil fuel emissions that are causing climate change. The Obama administration rejected it, but President Donald Trump revived it.
Through all of it, Bold Nebraska founder Jane Kleeb and her band of rural landowners and Natives led the fight against the project.
Wednesday's apparent victory capped quite a reversal of fortunes, Only last year, Nebraska's Supreme Court ruled in favor of the route through the state.
“On behalf of our Ponca Nation we welcome this long overdue news and thank all who worked so tirelessly to educate and fight to prevent this from coming to fruition. It’s a great day for Mother Earth,” said Larry Wright Jr., chairman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, whose ancestral land in north-central Nebraska was along the route.
Construction on the 1,200-mile pipeline began last year when the Trump administration revived the long-delayed project.
It would have moved up to 830,000 barrels of crude daily, connecting in Nebraska to other pipelines that feed oil refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Biden canceled it in January over longstanding concerns that burning oil sands crude would make climate change worse.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau objected to the move, but officials in Alberta, where the line originated, expressed disappointment in recent weeks that he didn’t lobby harder to reinstate the pipeline’s permit.
Alberta invested more than $1 billion in the project last year, kick-starting construction that had stalled amid determined opposition to the line along its route.
Alberta officials said Wednesday they reached an agreement with TC Energy, formerly known as TransCanada, to exit their partnership. The company and province plan to try to recoup the government's investment, although neither offered any immediate details on how that would happen.
“We remain disappointed and frustrated with the circumstances surrounding the Keystone XL project, including the cancellation of the presidential permit for the pipeline’s border crossing," Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said in a statement.
Attorneys general from 21 states had sued to overturn Biden’s cancellation of the contentious pipeline, which would have created thousands of construction jobs.
“This is yet another example of the Biden-Harris Administration putting the priorities of radical environmental activists above our national interest," Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said in a statement. "Without Keystone XL, the United States will not only be more dependent on overseas sources of oil, but our state will not enjoy the benefit of the jobs and property tax revenue the project would have brought.”
Republicans in Congress have made the cancellation a frequent talking point in their criticism of the administration, and even some moderate Senate Democrats including Montana's Jon Tester and West Virginia's Joe Manchin had urged Biden to reconsider.