The Keystone XL pipeline project, commissioned in 2010, is terminated completely as of June 9th, 2021. This would’ve been one of the longest pipelines in the world and TC Energy had been planning it for years. Personally I believe that fossil fuels are an obsolete resource to be used for energy when technologies for renewable energy sources are expanding, evolving and becoming cheaper. This pipeline specifically has had the attention of the public as soon as TC Energy proposed the project. There are already three pipelines in the Keystone project owned by TC Energy and this one would’ve added to this pipeline system, cutting through Native American land and the Ogallala aquifer, one of the world’s largest fresh water aquifers.
Then president Barrack Obama delayed the project in 2015 but Donald Trump gave permission to complete the Keystone XL around two months after taking office. Protests increased, there was unrest with the Native American communities affected and, just a month after Trump took action in favor of the pipeline, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave a report stating how this project would increase greenhouse gas emissions drastically and would go against the country’s clean energy proposal. During the 2014 elections this project became a heavily politicized issue and the scientific perspective was not properly voiced; it became a blue-vs-red type of problem.
Environmental protection has been this way for about half a century. The oil business had a huge economic boom in the 20th century and was only expected to grow with the increase in energy demand. At the time there was no regulation to stop big oil companies from growing by polluting uncontrollably. Even oil companies’ scientists were realizing the dangers of burning fossil fuels and politics had nothing to do with it. In early 1980, Exxon’s scientists wrote a report stating that burning fossil fuels had an extremely harmful effect in the environment, still this was ignored by the company due to the lowering prices of oil at the time. It is worrisome to think that there is a debate where no actual scientific evidence or concern for the future is considered to decide the fate of the world.
I am Ecuadorian, born and raised, but I was studying Environmental Engineering in the states, enough to see the Keystone XL project unfold in the politicians’ stage. I had an environmental policy class when Donald Trump was elected president and looking at this project reminded me so much of the power that these fossil fuel companies have. The lobbying, the covert constructions and the mismanagement of pollution. Big oil spills are reported on the news with almost no major reaction from the public because it is becoming something ordinary. Just in February of this year there was the massive oil spill in Israel and the Washington State oil spill. The risk to build these pipelines is there and the use of fossil fuels is causing more problems than solutions. Here in Ecuador, Petroecuador had to pay more than 33 million dollars for the deficient construction of a natural gas plant in 2020. Innovation is slowly showing the futility of these non-renewable resources and history is teaching the industry that it has been at risk of sinking for quiet some time now.
The fact that such a notable project is coming to an end is a small victory for those affected in the United States. Nevertheless, many people globally are affected by the impact of climate change everyday and as a species we are not taking any unified actions to prevent this harm. This concern is global but it is being resolved by segregated governments while unbiased opinions are left off the table and many officials are too afraid to look at the long-term consequences of their actions. Today I celebrate the halt of the possible 27.4 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide that would’ve been emitted yearly after coming from the Keystone XL pipeline. This is our planet and our home, and maybe one day we can find unity in protecting it so that everyone might enjoy it for a little bit longer.