Keystone XL Pipeline Terminated After 13 Years of Tribal Opposition

Jun 23, 2021 | News

On June 9, 2021, TC Energy terminated its proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. The decision comes after 13 years of tribal opposition, and after President Biden revoked the cross-border permit on January 20, 2021, the first day of his presidency. Without this permit, the pipeline could not cross the U.S.-Canada border.

KXL was first proposed in 2008 to carry up to 800,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the tar sands of Northern Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Texas. The proposed route cut through the homelands of the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes as well as Oceti Sakowin Treaty Territory, and it also crossed over the Ogallala Aquifer. 

The Obama Administration declined to grant the cross-border permit for the northern section of the pipeline in 2015. The Trump Administration attempted to reverse this decision with an Executive Order and issued a cross-border permit in 2017. This initial permit was challenged in court due to an inadequate environmental review. President Trump reissued the permit in 2019.

Tribes opposed KXL from its inception. Tribal opposition to KXL was based on the threats to tribal homelands, waters, and the countless cultural and religious sites within the proposed route; these would be at risk of destruction from the construction of KXL, and they would be forever threatened by ruptures, leaks, and spills known to occur at oil pipelines, including the existing Keystone Pipeline.  

Patterson Earnhart Real Bird & Wilson LLP works with tribes to protect and uphold treaty rights and to prevent impacts to tribal natural and cultural resources. To learn more about this issue and how we can assist, contact attorney Thomasina Real Bird in our Colorado office at (303) 926-5292.