Here’s What You Need to Know About Monday’s Keystone XL Decision

by Rachel Rye Butler

November 16, 2017

Remember earlier this year when Donald Trump “approved” the Keystone XL pipeline? If you're wondering what happened, the wait is over — or it will be soon.

© Amber Bracken / Greenpeace

On Monday November 20th, the state of Nebraska will issue its decision on permits for Keystone XL.

TransCanada, the Canadian oil company trying to build the pipeline, has all of the rest of the permits it needs at the federal level and in other states, leaving Nebraska to play an important role in whether the pipeline is allowed to move forward.

On Monday, the Nebraska Public Service Commission’s (PSC) five members will vote on whether to grant a permit for the pipeline to be built and if so, what route the pipeline would take through the state.

Nebraska could decide to do one of three things on Monday:

  1. Reject TransCanada’s application for a permit, killing the pipeline
  2. Approve a permit, but not along TransCanada’s preferred route, which would likely slow things down for the company
  3. Approve the permit along the route TransCanada wants

What’s really outrageous is that today, just four days before Nebraska is set to make its permitting decision, TransCanada spilled 210,000 gallons of oil from its Keystone 1 pipeline in South Dakota.

The writing on the wall to reject this pipeline could not be more clear.

The sad truth is that oil spills are not uncommon. The three companies proposing to build tar sands pipelines — TransCanada, Kinder Morgan and Enbridge — have seen an average of one spill per week since 2010. The Keystone XL pipeline could expect 59 significant spills over a 50-year lifetime.  These pipelines are bound to spill, and they put communities, precious drinking water, and our climate at risk.

Regardless of what happens on Monday, Nebraska’s permitting decision isn’t the only thing standing in the way of the pipeline being built. There are two other major factors: financing, and you.

Like any big capital project, TransCanada has to get financing to build the pipeline. More and more banks are pulling funding from tar sands and tar sands pipelines as they recognize that these kinds of projects are a risky investment. US Bank, for example, just pulled funding from Enbridge, another tar sands pipeline company that is trying to build pipelines through the Midwest.

We know that the climate can’t handle another tar sands pipeline. That’s why Greenpeace has been pressuring JP Morgan Chase Bank, one of TransCanada’s big funders, to drop its support of dirty and dangerous tar sands projects. You can tell Chase to drop their support of tar sands here.

And then there’s you. Aside from permits and financing, there’s also the movement — hundreds of thousands strong — that has been opposing KXL for nearly a decade. This movement isn’t going away until tar sands and other fossil fuels stay where they belong, which is in the ground.

The resistance to tar sands pipelines — whether it’s Keystone XL, Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain pipeline, or Enbridge’s Line 3 — is only getting stronger.

In large part, the resistance is growing thanks to Indigenous leadership. At the same time as Nebraska is making its decision on Monday, tribal representatives from across the continent will be gathered together near the proposed KXL route in South Dakota.  They’ll be there for the second signing of the Treaty to Protect the Sacred from Tar Sands Projects, reaffirming the commitment to protect the land and water from these disastrous pipelines.

We know that pipeline companies will stop at nothing to silence the growing opposition to these projects. The company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline has tried to silence dissent and rewrite the story of Indigenous-led resistance at Standing Rock by suing Greenpeace and others.

These senseless corporate attacks are all because this movement is working — and fossil fuel companies are terrified of growing protest. And that means the need for public and courageous opposition to these pipelines has never been greater.

No matter what happens on Monday, Greenpeace will be there to stand in the way of more tar sands pipelines getting built. Will you join us?

Rachel Rye Butler

By Rachel Rye Butler

Rachel Rye Butler leads the Democracy Campaign at Greenpeace USA. She writes frequently about people power, voting rights, and money in politics.

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