The end of Keystone XL

No KXL pipeline
Photo by Lorie Shaull on Flikr

The cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, on June 9, 2021, by TC Energy and the Government of Alberta was welcome news for KAIROS and its network.  This news might not have come as a surprise, as US President Joe Biden had already revoked the permit for this project in January, but construction on the Canadian side continued. Keystone XL would have carried the equivalent of 830,000 barrels a day with emissions up to 181 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year.   

Since 2009, KAIROS Canada has been calling for no further oil, gas and coal developments, including pipelines in Canada. This policy was informed by climate science and Indigenous peoples calls to protect the lands and waters in their territories and the safety of their community members, particularly women and girls. KAIROS’ position was bolstered by the International Energy Agency May 2021 report outlining its global pathway to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The report concludes that there can be no new oil and gas fields and no new coal mines or mine extensions developed if we are to achieve net-zero by 2050. The cancellation of Keystone XL is certainly good news for the climate and we urge the federal government to begin investing ambitiously in a just transition that supports affected workers and communities and upholds Indigenous rights. Reports like Steady Path: How a transition to a fossil-free Canada is within reach for workers and their communities are showing us how to get this done. 

The 1,897 km pipeline would have originated in Hardisty, Alberta and traversed several Indigenous territories and watersheds as it wound its way to Nebraska.  Indigenous leaders along the pipeline route have long signaled the risks associated with this project and others like it.  Oil spills would cause devastation to drinking water sources and fishing grounds, as well as endanger the habitat and food sources of several at-risk or endangered species.  The presence of temporary worker camps or “man camps” associated with the construction of the pipeline also threatened the wellbeing and lives of Indigenous women and girls along the pipeline route.  Amnesty International’s 2016 report Out of Sight, Out of Mind, confirmed that Indigenous women living near these camps suffer disproportionately high rates of violence – something Indigenous peoples have known for a long time. Melina Laboucan-Massimo reminds us that “we must recognize that violence against Earth is violence against women.” 

These risks remain very real for the Indigenous communities and watersheds along the routes of the Trans Mountain, Line 3 and other pipeline under construction on Turtle Island.  We focus our efforts on them now and will continue to stand with the Indigenous women and communities along these pipeline routes, defending their rights, as well as the lands, waters and climate for us all.   

Filed in: Ecological Justice

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