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By Kaley Beins
Few environmental concerns have received more media attention than TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline, a project designed to transport 830,000 barrels of crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada across 840 miles of the United States to Houston, Texas. Supporters of the project claim it will provide economic growth and domestic energy security, but critics have lambasted Keystone XL for its potential effects on climate change and the possibility of spills.
In addition to the environmental concerns connected to the pipeline, the proposed plan for Keystone XL disregards the sacred land of multiple indigenous groups. As Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) explained in IEN’s November 3rd E-Blast, “This dirty tar sands pipeline has met immense organized resistance from the Dene, Cree and Metis first nations at its source, thru [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][sic] the traditional lands of the Oceti Sakowin, also known as the Great Sioux Nation, and from the Ponca people of the southern great plains. This grassroots effort, coupled with alliances with non-native landowners helped the fight against Keystone XL become the marquee fight for the US Climate Movement.” Keystone XL is the very definition of an environmental justice issue.
After President Obama’s February 2015 veto of the Congressional bill that would have approved the pipeline, TransCanada and other supporters of Keystone XL have been trying to find other ways to pass the necessary legislation. This past Monday, November 2nd, TransCanada petitioned Secretary of State John Kerry to ask the U.S. State Department to pause its review of Keystone XL pending Nebraska’s approval of a portion of the route. Despite previously complaining of delays in the approval process, TransCanada is now asking for further delays, leading to speculation that it is trying to push the Keystone XL decision to the next presidential administration. This political move is significant as support for the pipeline is split directly along party lines; the Democratic nominees have come out against the pipeline, while the Republican nominees are in favor of it. However, on Wednesday the State Department decided to continue with its evaluation of the Keystone XL application.
Additionally, the White House press secretary Josh Earnest announced that President Obama plans to make a decision regarding the Keystone XL pipeline before the end of his term. As December’s Paris Climate Summit approaches and Obama solidifies his legacy I hope that he upholds his commitment to addressing climate change, in this case by rejecting TransCanada’s Keystone XL project.