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Keystone XL: Six Years of Controversy

Keystone XL: Six Years of Controversy

Tomorrow marks six years since TransCanada initially petitioned the U.S. State Department to build the Keystone XL pipeline. Do these type of oil pipeline projects usually take this long? The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) was halted for three years over controversies, and Keystone I was originally proposed by TransCanada in 2005 but didn't become operational until 2010.

Keystone XL has been halted not once, not twice, but three times by the current administration.

  • Delay #1 (11/2011) – The White House announced that it would delay approval of the pipeline while they explored alternative routes that avoided environmentally sensitive areas.
  • Delay #2 (1/2012) – President Obama delayed a decision on the pipeline because of a deadline on unrelated legislation.
  • Delay #3 (4/2014) – Administration decided to delay approval yet again until the Nebraska Supreme Court debate over the constitutionality of a KXL bill is resolved.

The project is controversial for a number of reasons, making it difficult to boil the debate down into a palatable sound bite. Keystone supporters believe that the pipeline will create jobs and boost the economy, which is a bit easier to summarize than the opposition.

Those who are part of the #NoKXL campaign oppose the project for a number of reasons. Some are Nebraska landowners who simply don't want their property rights encroached on by a foreign company. Others are environmentalists who are concerned about the impact of oil sands on the environment. Still others are farmers and ranchers who have everything to lose if the pipeline leaks on their property. Many fall into all three categories.

Political agendas, constitutional controversies, and environmental concerns have converged to create this six-year delay, and no one expects any sort of movement until after the mid-term elections.

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