Why the Keystone XL pipeline project is so controversial

The long-delayed Keystone XL from TransCanada Corp. is an $ 8 billion project to build an oil pipeline connecting Alberta, Canada, with the US Gulf Coast refineries. There were years of environmentalist objections but was eventually approved by US President Donald Trump. The project has now hit another roadblock in US courts.

1. What is the project?

The Keystone XL pipeline would extend from Alberta through the three states of Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska over a distance of 1,179 miles (1,897 km) before connecting it to an existing network carrying crude oil to the Gulf Coast. The line would carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day.

2. Why are environmentalists protesting?

Partly because of the nature of the fuel, which comes from petroleum managers from so-called oil sands and geologists from "bitumen". Production and extraction releases more greenhouse gases than conventional oil, and environmentalists would unacceptably increase global warming. They also highlight the risks to water supply and the general environment in which oil is relocated in the US. The Keystone XL pipeline continues to support this by paving the way for more bitumen production and limiting oil dependency for decades and delaying a transition to renewable energy.

3. When did Trump approve the project?

2017. His predecessor, Barack Obama, rejected a permit for the project in 2015 after eight years of angry debate. Just days after taking office, Trump announced measures to push the pipeline. But that was not the end of the battle. Environmental enemies praise against legal challenges. TransCanada also needs government approvals to get started.

4. Who contradicts

Nebraska created legal hurdles for TransCanada at the first appraisal. However, it was a federal court in Montana that had closed the project in November, and decided that a further environmental review by the US State Department is required. The verdict was filed in lawsuits by the Indigenous Environmental Network, the River Alliance and the Northern Plains Resource Council. TransCanada joined the lawsuit to defend approval of the permit.

5. What is Canada's position?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau favors building new pipelines – including Keystone XL – but has also taken steps to do more on climate issues, hoping to win over oil sands and pipeline opponents. Canadian oil must be sold at a discount to US crude due to transportation restrictions.

6. How dirty is the fuel?

Fuel made from tar sand bitumen results in the release of more carbon than conventionally produced fuel. This is partly because more energy is needed to promote and gain it. A Canadian clean energy group, the Pembina Institute, said the difference could be up to 37 percent. The industry and the government of Alberta say it's more like 6 percent. Oil companies say that coal-fired power plants pump much more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Environmentalists say the appropriate comparison is with conventional oil because, unlike coal, both types of crude oil are used primarily for the production of transport fuel.

7. What is Trump's position?

Trump said at the time of his Keystone decision, it was a step in the path to "make the process much easier for oil companies and anyone else in the United States who wants to do business".

With the help of Dan Murtaugh.

To contact the reporters on this story: Grant Clark in Singapore at gclark@bloomberg.net, Andrew Harris in Washington at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski at akwiatkowsk2@bloomberg.net, Ramsey Al-Rikabi, Paul Geitner

© 2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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