The highly-contested Keystone XL oil pipeline is set to begin construction, according to a press release Tuesday by TC Energy Corporation.
Running 1,210 miles in length, the pipeline will reportedly invest about $8 billion into the North American economy, the statement read. The pipeline will stretch from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada, down to Steele City, Neb., where it will reportedly harvest 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Oil will be funneled through the pipeline down to TC Energy’s facilities to reach the U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.
The company plans to start construction of the pipeline through the U.S. Midwest in April, according to the Associated Press. The Keystone pipeline is expected to be operational by 2023.
“We appreciate the ongoing backing of landowners, customers, Indigenous groups and numerous partners in the U.S. and Canada who helped us secure project support and key regulatory approvals as this important energy infrastructure project is poised to put thousands of people to work, generate substantial economic benefits and strengthen the continent’s energy security,” said Russ Girling, TC Energy’s President and Chief Executive Officer, in the statement.
TC Energy said that it has and will continue to “take guidance” from government and health authorities to ensure safety for the workers and surrounding communities while constructing during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Construction will advance only after every consideration for the health and safety of our people, their families and of those in the surrounding communities has been taken into account,” Girling continued.
Between the government of Alberta and TC Energy, at least $8 billion will be invested into completing the pipeline.
Girling thanked both President Trump and Alberta Premier Jason Kennery, in addition to “many government officials across North America” for their collective advocacy and support.
Back in 2015, President Obama blocked access for Keystone construction in the U.S., saying that “shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security.”
Various clean energy organizations have expressed disappointment over TC Energy’s announcement, lamenting both the timing and the environmental impact.
Collin Rees, a senior U.S. campaigner at the advocacy group Oil Change International called the announcement of pipeline construction a “desperate attempt” by Alberta’s government to continue construction efforts despite the global coronavirus pandemic.
“We need billions of public dollars invested directly in vulnerable communities dying from COVID-19, not spent propping up massive oil companies and unneeded projects that would trample Indigenous rights and exacerbate the climate crisis,” Rees said.
In 2019, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) filed lawsuits challenging President Trump’s two Presidential Permits to reapprove the Keystone pipeline without conducting new environmental reviews that had been previously ordered by federal courts, according to the IEN.
The Environmental Protection Network also weighed in, with former Associate Administrator Mustafa Santiago Ali stating that “We have 2.4 million miles of energy pipeline in America, enough to go to the moon and back twice. There is no reason to create more that will damage culture, place major water bodies in jeopardy from a breach and push more fossil fuel pollution into our atmosphere -placing more of our most vulnerable’s health in jeopardy and our planet in peril.”