“TransCanada remains fully committed to building Keystone XL,” the company said.
TransCanada’s seven-year effort to obtain a permit from the State Department needed to cross an international border was one of the central environmental battles of the Obama administration. Environmental groups count the rejection of the pipeline as one of their main achievements after Obama rejected the permit shortly before the international climate accord was signed in Paris.
Though the southern half of the pipeline was approved and completed years ago, the northern segment drew more intense opposition from a combination of farmers, ranchers and environmentalists. The pipeline would have carried up to 730,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Canada’s oil sands to a small town in southern Nebraska, where it could have connected with other TransCanada lines leading to the Texas gulf coast.
Climate activists opposed the pipeline because of the large amount of energy needed to extract the crude. Farmers and ranchers feared damage to water supplies in the event of a leak and opposed the use of eminent domain to take land for a project that would have no direct benefit for them.
TransCanada, as it did earlier, argued that the Keystone XL line would mean “tens of millions of dollars” in annual property taxes to counties along the route and a $3 billion boost to the U.S. economy. The company’s figures for job creation are widely disputed.
This year, on June 24 TransCanada filed an arbitration request with the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Negotiations have so far been unsuccessful. As a result, a panel of three arbitrators will determine whether TransCanada was treated unfairly under continent-wide fair trade rules. There is also a separate constitutional challenge to Obama’s decision that is working its way through a federal court in Houston.