Keystone XL

Written by  //  November 9, 2018  //  Oil & gas  //  2 Comments

See also Canada: Energy, environment & pipelines 2016 -17

No work can go forward on the Keystone XL oil pipeline until the government more fully studies its impact on the environment, a federal judge ruled.
The controversial project, a 1,200-mile pipeline from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries, had been blocked by the Obama administration over environmental concerns. Reviving it was one of President Trump’s first acts as president. The ruling, in the United States District Court for Montana, says the Trump administration “simply discarded” the pipeline’s effect on climate change. The administration had no immediate comment.
Another Keystone XL setback: environmental review ordered
(CTV) Trump has touted the $8 billion pipeline as part of his pledge to achieve North American “energy dominance” and has contrasted his administration’s quick approval of the project with years of delay under President Barack Obama. The Trump administration has not said whether it would appeal the new ruling. The State Department said it was reviewing the decision, but declined further comment, citing ongoing litigation.

9 February
Revealed: Trudeau government welcomed oil lobby help for US pipeline push
Canadian government viewed Trump’s election as “positive news” for Keystone XL and energy industry
Meetings conducted by senior government officials with TransCanada and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) reveal an one-sided approach more reminiscent of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s secret oil advocacy than Justin Trudeau’s green electoral promises.
The Liberal government has strongly backed the export of Alberta tar sands via the Keystone XL pipeline, which was initially rejected by the Obama administration on climate grounds but approved by Trump in March 2017.
The documents, obtained through access-to-information, show the Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister met around the same time with TransCanada’s CEO Russ Girling and CAPP to discuss the continued promotion of the pipeline and oil exports.
Trudeau has unreservedly supported Keystone XL, but the documents acknowledge that it faces opposition along its potential route, as protests and several lawsuits threaten to trip up TransCanada’s construction.
“Major resistance to the KXL project is occurring in South Dakota and Nebraska where farmers, indigenous groups, environmental groups and land owners are taking issue with the project,” one document says.
The Obama Administration rejected Keystone XL after a “climate test” found the shipping of 800,00 barrels of tar sands a day would undercut efforts to combat climate change.


27 November
Keystone XL operator asks Nebraska to reconsider after state approves alternative pipeline route
On Monday, TransCanada said it is seeking further clarification from the commission about its approval of the alternative route, which adds an additional pumping station and five miles to the company’s preferred route. TransCanada has said the alternative route approved by the commission is more expensive, and that it believes the route it prefers is in the public interest of the state.
Keystone’s existing pipeline spills far more than predicted to regulators
(Reuters) – TransCanada Corp’s (TRP.TO) existing Keystone pipeline has leaked substantially more oil, and more often, in the United States than indicated in risk assessments the company provided to regulators before the project began operating in 2010, according to documents reviewed by Reuters.

21 November
Analysis: Keystone XL clears final hurdle only to see more hurdles
Pipeline still needs work to get across finish line, despite approval of route through Nebraska
(CBC) Supposedly, the sound of bulldozers breaking ground would soon bring a giant sigh of relief from Canada’s energy industry, and from both Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who could both sell the pipe as evidence they really do care as much about industry as they do the environment.

24 March
Approval timeline
How Keystone XL, the pipeline rejected by Obama, went ahead under Trump
The expansion, which was originally proposed in 2008 and faced strong protest from environmental advocates, secures permit to start building from Trump


22 September
Hillary Clinton: I Oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline
(NBC news) “I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone XL pipeline as what I believe it is: A distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change, and, unfortunately from my perspective, one that interferes with our ability to move forward and deal with other issues,” she said during a campaign event in Iowa Tuesday.
“Therefore, I oppose it. I oppose it because I don’t think it’s in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change.”
3 August
Keystone XL Hits New Turbulence as South Dakota Permit Hearing Implodes
( Holes too big to fix were poked in TransCanada’s narrative that its Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will be the safest pipeline ever built. And questions were raised about how the pipeline company’s financial dealings are set up during Public Utilities Commission hearings in Pierre, South Dakota last week where state regulators are tasked to decide if the company is capable of following the rules the state set when the original Keystone pipeline permit was granted in 2010.
A team of lawyers representing Native American tribes and the grassroots group Dakota Rural Action took the upper hand during the proceedings as they tried to have a TransCanada executive’s testimony impeached. The proceedings took on a circus-like atmosphere when TransCanada was unable to prevent lines of questioning it didn’t like.
7 January
Obama Is Threatening to Veto the Keystone XL Bill. But Does the Pipeline Even Matter Anymore?
(Slate) Keystone would probably be a small boon to the American fossil-fuel industry, even at this late date. Remember, the pipeline would send crude to refiners on the Gulf Coast. And what do refiners do? They buy oil, then transform it into gasoline, diesel, and other products to sell. The less expensive the oil, the easier it is for them to turn a profit, and the heavy crude found in the tar sands—which gulf refiners are specially equipped to process—is especially cheap, even compared to similar low grades from Mexico and Venezuela.


Obama Keystone Photo: Sue Ogrocki/AP

See also Canada: Energy, environment & pipelines 2013 -2014
Keystone Pipeline Brings Pain at Pump: Jonathan Alter (Bloomberg 1 March 2012)

Andrew Leach: What you need to know about the Keystone XL assessment
(Maclean’s) Today, the U.S. State Department released the Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Keystone XL pipeline.  This document will be poured over extensively during the coming weeks and months as opponents and proponents of the pipeline look to bolster their cases.
Is this good news, bad news, or no news?
I don’t think the conclusions in the report have moved the dial much on the potential for approval, as they don’t seem that different from those in previous reports.  We’ll now wait for the EPA and other government departments to weigh in, and perhaps we’ll have some real news to report in a few months when the decision is, finally, on the president’s desk.  That, or the Republicans may choose to give the president another easy out on this decision by trying to force a decision before the process has run its course.(31 January 2014)

25 April
No Keystone XL? Blame Canada
(Bloomberg View) To hear the Canadian government tell it, Barack Obama’s administration has yet to approve the Keystone XL pipeline because it won’t stand up to environmental activists. Exhaustive new reporting offers a more persuasive explanation: The oil pipeline hasn’t been approved because the Canadian government keeps screwing up.
Today’s story by my colleagues at Bloomberg News bureaus in Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary, the result of more than 75 interviews, lays out how Canada’s failure to secure a green light for Keystone can be traced to a series of miscalculations, missed opportunities and flat-out mistakes. (The story is worth reading in its entirety.)
William Marsden: Canada’s threats, whining and naivete botched Keystone XL
(Postmedia news) Sept. 17, 2008, when TransCanada filed its first application for a presidential permit for the 1,900-kilometre Keystone XL pipeline, it looked like a no-brainer. In a country obsessed with energy security, Keystone offered a dependable supply of Canadian heavy oil for decades to come. Keystone One had been approved without a glitch. So why not Keystone XL?
Six years later that pipeline remains a dream and the words of Jane Kleeb echo through the hallways of Washington power brokers. Conventional wisdom says TransCanada botched the deal by failing to respond quickly to a fast-changing political environment while at the same time refusing to make any concessions to Nebraska, Montana and Dakota landowners and officials.
Washington insiders claim both TransCanada and the Canadian government have essentially displayed a shocking ignorance of and insensitivity to U.S. governance and politics. Then, as the company bulldozed its way through America’s heartland, it gifted a flagging environmental movement with a new climate change icon upon which they could fatten their treasuries and raise public outrage.
22 April
Keystone Uncensored — A labor leader calls the Administration ‘gutless,’ ‘dirty’ and more.
(WSJ) Republicans are denouncing President Obama’s latest delay on the Keystone XL pipeline, six long years after it was proposed. But for cold political fury they have nothing on Terry O’Sullivan, who runs the Laborers’ International Union that represents a half-million construction workers. …
The pipeline is expected to create some 2,000 new jobs from construction and thousands more related to the project. Many of those jobs would go to Mr. O’Sullivan’s union members, who do not live on San Francisco’s Pacific Heights like billionaire donor Tom Steyer who opposes Keystone.
Mr. O’Sullivan may feel especially bitter because he and the Laborers twice endorsed Mr. Obama for President, calling him a leader “who will fight to create jobs.” But he shouldn’t be surprised now given that Mr. Obama was doing the Keystone delay and dodge routine throughout 2012. Union leaders whose members work in the private economy, not the government, should know by now that if they want Keystone approved they will need a Republican Senate.
7 February
Environmentalists Continue To Question Keystone Analysts’ Ties To TransCanada
But Environmental Resources Management, the contractor that prepared that analysis, has been the subject of conflict of interest complaints since early last year, when it released its initial environmental assessment of the proposed 1,660-mile pipeline from Canada to Texas. After the initial analysis was released, it came to light that several ERM employees had done work for TransCanada and one of its subsidiaries — a fact that the State Department had redacted from publicly released documents.
Later reports noted that ERM was also listed in documents as one of the contractors that played a role in the Alaska Pipeline Project, a natural gas pipeline that TransCanada and ExxonMobil are developing together.
Environmental groups pointed to this as evidence of a conflict of interest that should have precluded ERM from being hired to produce the environmental impact analysis. They also accused the contractor of not adequately disclosing those relationships in forms filed with the State Department.
4 February
Keystone pipeline backed by unusual coalition of Democrats, Republicans, labour, business
But Jeffrey Sachs is not one of them!
Jeffrey Sachs — Keystone: The Pipeline to Disaster
The volumes will be enormous, roughly 830,000 barrels per day. The pipeline will thereby facilitate the mass extraction and use of Canada’s enormous unconventional supplies. Therein lies the problem.
The overwhelming scientific consensus is that human-induced climate change is occurring; that the world is experiencing a rapidly rising frequency of extreme climate-related events such as heat waves; and that there is much worse to come unless we change course on the use of fossil fuels. Specifically, with energy business as usual, the world is on a trajectory to raise the mean global temperature by at least 3 degrees C (5.4 degrees F) by the end of century, and possibly far more, a climate disruption that most scientists regard as catastrophic. The world’s governments have agreed to try to keep the temperature increase below 2-degrees C, yet until now they’ve done far too little to meet that target.
1 February
Justin Trudeau accuses Stephen Harper of failing to make the case for the Keystone XL pipeline
(Straight) … Trudeau has claimed that opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline is not rooted in science.
“It’s political,” Trudeau told reporters in Vancouver. “And it is a failing of our prime minister to actually make a proper case for the Keystone XL pipeline by demonstrating that you cannot separate economy and environment.” … He also said: “The decision by the State Department really highlights that the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline in the United States and elsewhere is not scientific.”
31 January
The Keystone XL Pipeline Is Now One Big Step Closer to U.S. Approval
(Slate) The State Department, at long last, is out with its final environmental analysis of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. The early takeaway is that it doesn’t look good for environmentalists and their like-minded allies. Here are the details, via the New York Times’ Coral Davenport:
The long-awaited environmental impact statement on the project concludes that approval or denial of the pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, is unlikely to prompt oil companies to change the rate of their extraction of carbon-heavy tar sands oil, a State Department official said. Either way, the tar sands oil, which produces significantly more planet-warming carbon pollution than standard methods of drilling, is coming out of the ground, the report says. …
The conclusions of the report appear to indicate that the project has passed Mr. Obama’s climate criteria [that it wouldn’t “significantly exacerbate” the problem of carbon pollution], an outcome expected to outrage environmentalists, who have rallied, protested, marched and been arrested in demonstrations around the country against the pipeline.
Keystone report raises pressure on Obama to approve pipeline
(Reuters) – Pressure for President Barack Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline increased on Friday after a State Department report played down the impact it would have on climate change, irking environmentalists and delighting proponents of the project.
The agency made no recommendation in its report on whether Obama should grant or deny an application by TransCanada Corp to build the $5.4 billion line, which would transport crude from Alberta’s oil sands to U.S. refineries.
But the State Department said that blocking Keystone – or any pipeline – would do little to slow the expansion of Canada’s vast oil sands, maintaining the central finding of a preliminary study issued last year.
24 January
Oil started flowing Wednesday through a southern leg of the pipeline from Oklahoma to the Houston region. Why oil refiners love today’s Keystone news “The opening of the Keystone Pipeline south leg triples the amount of pipeline capacity from Cushing, Okla., to the Texas Gulf Coast,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. “The oil that arrives in the Port Arthur area will now be accessible to about 25 percent of the nation’s refinery capacity because it will be connected by pipeline not only to Port Arthur but to Lake Charles and the New Orleans refining centers.”


9 December
Do or Die Time for the Keystone XL?
( By pinning the Keystone XL’s fate on climate change while simultaneously holding up the State Department’s conclusion that Alberta’s oil sands will be mined regardless, President Obama seems to be hinting at what form the decision will ultimately take.
The southern portion of Keystone XL is already being built and business as usual continues at Canada’s oil sands – for ecological better or worse. Once the president is able to demonstrate that there is no connection between increased carbon emissions and the northern extension, he will have no reason to block the final piece of the Keystone puzzle. (9 December)
6 December
Keystone XL backers awaiting report seen sealing pipeline’s fate
(Bloomberg via Financial Post) Supporters and foes of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline are bracing for the release of an environmental analysis from the U.S. government that could determine the US$5.4-billion project’s fate.
While the report isn’t the final step, it’s eagerly anticipated because it will answer a question central to whether President Barack Obama approves the project: would Keystone contribute significantly to climate change? Obama has said he wouldn’t support the pipeline if it were found to substantially boost carbon-dioxide emissions that many scientists say are raising the Earth’s temperature.
27 September
Madelaine Drohan — Just the Facts: But Which Ones?
Differing perspectives on the Keystone debate
( The long-awaited presidential decision on Keystone XL will be a small but telling addition in what is a much broader debate about climate change. Mr. Harper has already nailed his colours to the mast, pushing for more and faster resource development while dragging his feet on a credible climate change plan. Following his lead, companies are investing in projects and infrastructure that will lock Canada into more fossil fuel production for decades to come. This path does not lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr. Obama’s position is less clear. He has linked Keystone approval to Canada’s climate change performance, an indication he is taking the longer term into consideration. But does he have the ability to follow through? It is foolhardy to guess which way his decision will go. It all depends on which set of facts he intends to use.
26 September
Harper won’t take no for an answer on Keystone XL
(CBC) With the fate of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline still in the hands of U.S. President Barack Obama five years on, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a crowd of business leaders gathered in New York that he will not take no for an answer.
Harper, who participated in a question and answer session with the Canadian American Business Council on the second day of his visit to New York Thursday afternoon, said “my view is you don’t take no for an answer.”
“This won’t be final until it’s approved and we will keep pushing forward,” Harper said.
6 September
Harper offers Obama climate plan to win Keystone approval
(CBC) Prime Minister Stephen Harper has sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama formally proposing “joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector,” if that is what’s needed to gain approval of the Keystone XL pipeline through America’s heartland, CBC News has learned.
Sources told CBC News the prime minister is willing to accept targets proposed by the United States for reducing the climate-changing emissions and is prepared to work in concert with Obama to provide whatever political cover he needs to approve the project.
The letter, sent in late August, is a clear signal Canada is prepared to make concessions to get the presidential permit for TransCanada Corp.’s controversial $7-billion pipeline, which will connect the Alberta oilsands to refineries in Texas.
1 July

Did Obama Just Clear the Keystone XL?

Some pundits seized on the bottom-line requirement that “this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution” as a signal that the pipeline will proceed. Forbes energy reporter Christopher Helman went so far as to conclude that “Obama Declares Keystone XL Will Be Approved.”
As Helman points out, the State Department’s Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Keystone XL Pipeline project has already concluded that approval of the project would have little impact on global carbon dioxide emissions or on the development of the oil sands, because the oil will get to market one way or another.
This is one of the contentious issues in the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline — whether the oil from the Alberta oil sands will get to market even if the pipeline isn’t built. … Five years ago, the arguments now deployed against the Keystone XL could have been just as easily applied to the Bakken: production would be constrained because there was simply no way rail could ramp up fast enough to move the Bakken crude out of North Dakota. And of course shipment by rail would be too expensive. Yet it did ramp up, because the explosion in production depressed the price of Bakken crude relative to more widely traded waterborne crudes like Brent, and this created a tremendous incentive for refiners to move that product to coastal refineries one way or another.
25 June
There will be endless analyses and parsing of President Obama’s (unexpected) reference to the Keystone XL pipeline on both sides of the border and multiple sides of the political spectrum.
Paul Wells is early out of the gate
Keystone: Obama changes the question. (This is big.)
Keystone XL must not lead to increase in emissions: Obama
Joe Oliver says Keystone is in ‘national interest of both our countries’
(CBC) Authorities should only approve TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline if they’re certain it won’t “significantly exacerbate” greenhouse gas emissions, U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday as he unveiled a national plan to combat climate change.
In a highly anticipated speech on his second-term climate objectives, Obama weighed in on Keystone despite suggestions he would steer clear of the controversial project because it’s in the midst of a State Department review.
A determination that building the northern portion of Keystone XL will not result in greater greenhouse gas emissions “is absolutely critical in determining whether this project will be allowed to go forward,” Obama said to cheers from the crowd gathered on a steamy day at D.C.’s Georgetown University.
4 June
Billionaire Democrat vows fight against Keystone by targeting Obama voters
(Ottawa Citizen) A San Francisco billionaire — a friend to Barack Obama and a major Democratic financier — is embarking on a mission to block TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline by targeting voters who cast ballots for the president in last year’s election.
In an open letter to Obama, written by Tom Steyer just two months after hosting the president at his home, the climate-change activist says his political action committee, NextGen Action, is launching a campaign to “intensify our efforts in communicating what is the right policy choice to your administration.”
30 May
Who’s who of Obama lobbyists pushes Keystone pipeline
(Financial Times) TransCanada, the company hoping to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, and the Canadian province of Alberta have hired a who’s who of lobbyists and communications professionals with links to the Obama administration – and to John Kerry in particular. …
1 March
keystone pipeline constructionKeystone XL to have minimal impact on environment, assessment says
(National Post) The development of Canada’s oil sands is unlikely to be significantly affected whether or not the Keystone XL pipeline project is approved, the U.S. State Department said in a new report released on Friday.
The long-awaited supplementary environmental impact statement report suggested that many environmental effects of the project could be mitigated, while downplaying the potential economic impacts of the project on the Canadian industry.


2 Comments on "Keystone XL"

  1. klem February 13, 2014 at 11:16 am ·

    Obama has shown himself to be the most dithering and indecisive president since Jimmy Carter. Its been two years now, if he can’t make a decision about an oil pipe, what exactly can he make a decision about?

    No wonder he garners so little respect around the world. This is embarrassing.

    Advantage Putin.

  2. Nick's Gleanings February 21, 2014 at 2:06 pm ·

    Nick’s Gleanings #550
    The controversial Keystone XL pipeline had another road block thrown in its path when Nebraska judge Stephanie Stacy threw out a 2012 law that had empowered Gov. Dave Heineman to approve its route through the state & resort to ‘eminent’ domain’ to overcome landowners’ refusal to have it cross their land – known in Canada as expropriation, eminent domain is a legal provision that allows a government to seize private property for public use (for compensation, of course). Meanwhile, as it was reported that President Obama had given “no ground” to Prime Minister Harper on the Keystone issue during the February 19th one-day “Three Amigos”2 meeting in Mexico, the latter found time for a visit to TransCanada’s Mexican Headquarters, purely a ‘photo op’ since the company’s entire focus there is to move Mexican-produced natural gas around within Mexico.

Comments are now closed for this article.