By Anne Meador for DC Media Group – Washington, DC–President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau embraced warmly today at their first official meeting at the White House, finding common cause in building oil pipelines, among other things. But protesters, who staked out Trudeau at the Canadian embassy later in the afternoon, made sure that the Prime Minister saw their determination to fight fossil fuel infrastructure. Among the flurry of executive orders issued during the first week of President Trump’s term was a memorandum he signed regarding the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. It invites TransCanada to re-submit its application for Keystone XL and instructs the Secretary of State to expedite review and render a decision within 60 days.
By Rebecca Adamson for Truthout – When TransCanada Corporation announced its plans for a Keystone XL pipeline expansion project in 2008, the company projected capital costs to be $4.3 billion for the entire project. After 6 years of waiting for US executive approval, including countless congressional votes, a Nebraska Supreme Court case and a president who has yet to budge, TransCanada increased estimated capital investments for the pipeline another $2.5 billion. The reason? “Lengthy delays,” undoubtedly exacerbated by community protests and opposition from environmental and social interest groups. One of the loudest proponents of pipeline opposition, and arguably the most vulnerable, are North America’s Indigenous Peoples
By Deirdre Fulton for Common Dreams – With his order to revive the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline, President Donald Trump “has declared war on Indigenous nations across the country,” one Cheyenne River Sioux organizer said Monday. But he’ll be met by a fierce native resistance movement that “will not back down,” said the organizer, Joye Braun, on a press call organized by the Indigenous Environmental Movement (IEN). Trump signed executive orders last week advancing the controversial KXL and Dakota Access (DAPL) pipelines, prompting widespread outrage and vows of bold resistance from the Indigenous activists, climate campaigners, and countless others who have fought against both projects.
By Phil McKenna for Inside Climate News – President Trump uses early directive to clear the way for two major, controversial oil pipelines to get built, countering Obama decisions to the contrary. President Donald Trump issued executive actions on Tuesday to revive two highly contested oil pipelines previously blocked by the Obama administration. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline had become litmus tests of President Obama’s commitment to the fight against climate change as each project galvanized widespread grassroots opposition. Disputes over them had also created a bitter split over fossil fuel development that sharply divided Democrats from Republicans.
By Lisa Song for Inside Climate News – When President-elect Donald Trump takes office next month, his pro-drilling, anti-climate action energy policy will buoy the oil industry. But it will also face staunch resistance from a pipeline opposition movement that gathered momentum, particularly with this year’s successful showdown over the Dakota Access pipeline, and shows no signs of slowing. Local grassroots action, governments’ environmental concerns and market forces have stopped or delayed dozens of fossil fuel projects since the high-profile Keystone XL pipeline was cancelled in November 2015, and activists are continuing to oppose at least a dozen oil and gas pipelines around the country.
By Nia Williams and Ethan Lou for Reuters – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump was “very supportive” of TransCanada Corp’s proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline in their first conversation after the U.S. election. “He actually brought up Keystone XL and indicated that he was very supportive of it,” Trudeau told an event in Calgary, Canada’s oil capital. “I’m confident that the right decisions will be taken.” Trudeau, who too supports Keystone XL, said also he saw “extraordinary opportunities” for his country if the United States under Trump steps back from tackling climate change…
By Alejandro Davila Fragoso for Climate Progress – Nearly a week after pipeline operator TransCanada shut down a section of its Keystone line over an oil leak, the company reported Thursday thousands of gallons of oil were spilled, not less than 200 as it first said. Based on soil excavations, TransCanada said about 16,800 gallons of oil leaked onto a field in South Dakota, the Associated Press reported. After the leak was discovered Saturday and the line was shut, TransCanada said about 187 gallons of crude oil had spilled, an accident that environmental groups said shows the dangers of shipping oil by pipeline.
TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has been front and center in a heated continental energy and climate debate for over four years now – and President Obama is sounding more and more like he is poised to make the right decision and reject the pipeline that would carry high carbon, high risk, high cost bitumen through North America’s heartland. As you probably can imagine, tar sands producers and shippers will not give up easily in their efforts to get Canadian oil to international markets – where they can make more money selling their oil. TransCanada has recently proposed an even bigger pipeline called Energy East that would carry 1.1 million barrels of tar sands oil from Alberta, across all of central and Eastern Canada to Atlantic refineries and ports.
An employee of Florida’s environmental protection department was forced to take a leave of absence and seek a mental health evaluation for violating governor Rick Scott’s unwritten ban on using the phrases “climate change” or “global warming” under any circumstance, according to a complaint filed against the state. Longtime employee Barton Bibler reportedly included an explicit mention of climate change in his official notes from a Florida Coastal Managers Forum meeting in late February, during which climate change, rising sea levels and the possible environmental impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline were discussed. On 9 March, Bibler received a formal reprimand for “misrepresenting that ‘the official meeting agenda included climate change’”, according to a statement from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Peer).
In a far corner of North Dakota, just a few hundred miles from the proposed path of the Keystone XL pipeline, 84,000 barrels of crude oil per day recently began flowing through a new line that connects the state’s sprawling oilfields to an oil hub in Wyoming. In West Texas, engineers activated a new pipeline that cuts diagonally across the state to deliver crude from the oil-rich Permian Basin to refineries near Houston. And in a string of towns in Kansas, Iowa and South Dakota, local government officials are scrutinizing the path of pipeline extensions that would pass nearby. While the Keystone project awaits a final decision, scenes like these are unfolding almost every week in lesser-known developments that have quietly added more than 11,600 miles of pipeline to the nation’s domestic oil network.
This morning members of 350-Missoula, Blue Skies Campaign, and CAJA3 (Community Action for Justice in the Americas, Africa, and Asia) held a sit-in at the Missoula office of Senator Steve Daines to protest the senator’s denial of climate change science and his support for fossil fuel projects like coal exports, the Otter Creek Coal Mine, and the Keystone XL pipeline. Fourteen people were arrested for refusing to leave Daines’ office in a peaceful act of civil disobedience, while around seventy supporters stood outside holding protest signs. “We are here today because we want our elected representatives to stop greenlighting harmful industries such as coal exports and the Keystone XL pipeline, and to support renewable energy and a clean, sustainable economy,” said Meaghan Browne from Butte.
The battle over building the Keystone XL pipeline is having an impact far from its proposed route. One of those places is the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a city of 100,000 known for its educated and engaged citizens. The city currently purchases the electricity that powers its municipal buildings from TransCanada, Keystone XL’s parent company. But now its city council has passed a unanimous resolution advising city manager Richard Rossi not to do business with the company once its current contract expires at the end of 2015 and to look at acquiring the city’s electricity from clean, renewable sources. The measure was sponsored by councillor Dennis Carlone.
So far, 2015 has not been good to the oil industry. In just the last two weeks, the bad news included two fiery oil railcar accidents, a refinery explosion, a scandal involving an industry-funded climate skeptic, a high-profile setback for an oil-by-rail project, a big retrenchment in Canada’s oil sands, and the president’s veto of the Keystone XL oil import pipeline. And that’s not all. Those events have come on top of industry-wide ripple effects from the recent plunge in crude prices. In the last two months, a string of oil companies announced disappointing earnings, workforce layoffs and sharp spending cuts. On Feb. 1, union leaders began strikes at many U.S. refineries after contract talks stalled. “It’s a mess…it’s like a perfect storm,” said Fadel Gheit, senior oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Co.
The Keystone XL pipeline may have divided advocates and lawmakers in Washington, but the controversial project has also united a wide group of Native American tribes whose lands the pipes would cross. The proposed pipeline would run for 1,179 miles from southern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, crossing through six states and the territories of numerous tribes from the Dene and Creek Nations to the Omaha, Ho-chunk and Panka tribes. These tribal nations say the US government has failed to adequately consult and negotiate the matter with them, despite the direct effect the pipeline’s route would have on their lands “I think that a lot of tribes are really frustrated at the lack of inclusion in this process that’s guaranteed through our treaty rights,” says Dallas Goldtooth of theIndigenous Environmental Network. Goldtooth says their primary concern is that the State Department’s permitting process has overlooked tribal treaties with the federal government.