In spite of Donald Trump’s January 24 executive order inviting TransCanada Corporation to reapply for permission to build the Keystone XL pipeline, there are three good reasons to think the pipeline may never be built, DeSmog Canada reported last week.
“U.S. approval, while a great leap forward for TransCanada, doesn’t guarantee the Keystone XL pipeline will ever be built,” DeSmog reports, citing economics, landowners, and environment and climate concerns as the three barriers still standing in the project’s path.
Under the heading of economics, DeSmog cites Enbridge CEO Al Monaco’s recent statement that Canada will only need two more pipelines, including the recently-approved Line 3 pipeline expansion, to meet foreseeable demand through the middle of next decade. Other analysts agree, pointing to the huge financial gambles associated with long-term pipeline contracts and the recent decisions by several international fossil companies to abandon their tar sands/oil sands projects.
“There will be no more greenfield projects if the price of oil stays at what it is,” said unconventional fuels specialist David Hughes, formerly with the Geological Survey of Canada.
“The economic case is not there for the three pipelines,” agreed North American climate mitigation lead Amin Asadollahi of the International Institute for Sustainable Development. “Should the massive expansion happen, I don’t think the financial benefits for the sector…would be there.”
First Peoples and non-Indigenous landowners are also gearing up to fight Keystone 2.0 in the courts, just as they did in the first round, DeSmog reports.
“In 2015, over 100 Nebraska landowners sued TransCanada over the proposed use of eminent domain; the company eventually withdrew from the case and its plans for eminent domain, but it appears such conflicts will reignite with the federal approval,” DeSmog notes. “Landowners have already started to meet to plot out how to resist the pipeline.”
Hughes and Greenpeace Canada energy and climate campaigner Keith Stewart also point to the prospect that another 830,000 barrels per day of tar sands/oil sands production to feed Keystone would drive Alberta above its legislated, 100-megatonne emissions cap—which could ultimately lead to court challenges.
“We’re actually looking at a variety of ways to put pressure—including possible legal challenges—on companies that are basing their business model on the failure of the Paris agreement,” Stewart said. “If you’re telling your investors, ‘We’ll make money because the world will not act on climate change’, are you actually engaging politically to try to produce that outcome? Are you lobbying against climate policy?”