As Inauguration Day nears in the U.S., talk of the Keystone XL Oil Project is on the rise. President-elect Joe Biden has been rumored to revoke the permit for the pipeline, reversing the decision made by President Trump and the Supreme Court in 2019 to approve the pipeline and grant the project a permit.
The Keystone XL Oil Project started in 2011, with a 90-day consultation period to determine if the pipeline was in the national interest. In 2013 the pipeline was approved in Nebraska, and in 2019 received support from President Trump and the Supreme Court. The project is run by TC Energy and the pipeline will run through the U.S. and Canada to better transport oil through North America. Throughout the project, the goals of the project have changed drastically to meet the ever-changing environmental needs of our world. The Keystone XL pipeline is the first pipeline to commit to becoming fully powered by renewable energy and will have net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 thanks to a 1.7 billion dollar renewable energy investment. While TC Energy has done a great deal to meet the needs and concerns of environmentalists, politicians, and tribe leaders there are still many concerns about the potential negative effects of the pipeline.
One large concern of the pipeline is that it could lead to the extinction of some animals. The swift fox is already considered an endangered animal, and the pipeline was originally routed through most of the animals’ remaining habitat locations. TC Energy has agreed to change its planned route a bit to move around some of the environmentally sensitive sandhills to help protect the environment. The company has also agreed to bury the pipeline deeper into the ground and to monitor the pipeline’s safety to minimize the potential for an oil spill. Yet, this is no guarantee that habitats won’t be destroyed in the construction of this pipeline.
Another substantial concern of the pipeline is that if it were to leak, it could damage the drinking water of nearby Native American tribes and communities. It could even damage areas that are sacred to Native Americans. To combat this concern, TC Energy has partnered with many surrounding native tribes and communities to work with them to build a safe and environmentally sustainable pipeline. Additionally, it is usually safer and faster to move oil through pipelines, rather than by train or boat. Pipelines minimize the risk for oil spills, but they don’t completely eliminate that risk. Yet, studies have shown that the pipeline would have no additional impacts on greenhouse gases.
If President-elect Joe Biden is to revoke this permit, thousands of jobs could be lost. Over 60,00 direct and indirect jobs for Americans and Canadians have been created with the creation of the pipeline. This project has already put in an $8 billion investment into the North American economy, which could go to waste if the pipeline is forced to stop construction. No matter what decision President-elect Joe Biden decides to make, it is clear to see that tough decisions and sacrifices will have to be made.