The Keystone XL pipeline was slated to carry 800,000 gallons of tar sands per day through northeastern Montana. (Alex/Adobe Stock)

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January 22, 2021

By Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service – MT

HELENA, Mont. – President Joe Biden made the Keystone XL Pipeline one of his top priorities on his first day in office, issuing an executive order to revoke the controversial project’s permit. Tribes and conservation groups are cheering the decision.

The pipeline aimed to deliver 800,000 gallons per day of Alberta tar sands through Montana on its way to Louisiana and Texas. Bill Whitehead is chairman of the Assiniboine and Sioux Rural Water Supply System in northeastern Montana.

He said it’s been a long-fought battle, with many ups and downs.

“It was looking tough at different times, but it looks like we may prevail,” said Whitehead. “But you never let your guard down. They, in Canada, still want you to fight it out, you know, as well as other corporate entities.”

Whitehead said he was concerned about the pipeline leaking because the local water system was not designed to process tar sands.

TC Energy, the company behind Keystone XL, said Biden’s decision will result in the loss of thousands of jobs.

Summer Nelson, director of the Sierra Club’s Montana chapter, said it’s a relief for the waters and habitats where the pipeline would have crossed. She said she hopes this is an indication of how the Biden administration will approach the environment, and recalls the president’s words in his inaugural address.

“His comment about responding to that very cry for survival from the planet itself gave us, definitely, some hope that he will continue making the right decisions for the climate,” said Nelson, “and hopefully take similar action on other pipelines, like Line 3 and the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

Line 3 carries Alberta tar sands through the upper Midwest and its proposed expansion is facing resistance from Indigenous communities in Minnesota. The Dakota Access pipeline began operating in 2017.

On his first day in office, Biden also rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service – MT