June 29, 2020 Read More →

Keystone XL pipeline push continues in middle of coronavirus pandemic

The Daily Beast:

A coyote trots along a lush, green clearing near the town of Fort McMurray, Canada. It is brazenly undeterred by the presence of humans. Sniffing the grasses still wet with rain on an overcast summer day, it pauses at the edge of a wide expanse of thick, dark sludge. The air here is harsh with chemicals that rise off the muck—they burn the mouth and throat, almost like being on the outskirts of a tear gas cloud.

These are the Athabasca tar sands, the result of open-pit mining of bitumen and crude oil. The boreal forest that stood here for millennia was razed to allow miners to dredge up the natural resources that form the backbone of the region’s oil industry, creating vast, black pits in its place. Heavy machinery used in this process sits empty on a Saturday, and a huge smokestack spewing gray smog in the distance is the only indication of industrial activity.

Undeterred by the project’s potential to spread COVID-19 across international borders, near-certain damage to the environment, continued legal obstacles, or indigenous opposition, TransCanada announced that it had completed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline across the U.S. border on May 27. 

The corporation is likely encouraged by the fact that oil prices have already started to climb again from their plummet in April, but some economists still have doubts regarding the Keystone XL’s long-term economic viability. Even with so much financial and political investment behind the project, how essential is the Keystone XL likely to prove for North America?

“What [TransCanada] is doing is asserting a fantasy market,” says Tom Sanzillo, director of finance at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis in Ohio.  “The oil and gas industry in North America has had the keys to the kingdom for the last three and a half years. That’s what happens when they get the President of the United States on their side…but you can have all the political intervention you want, and the markets are such that it will not make the Canadian oil sands profitable.”

[Sulome Anderson]

More: The Keystone XL Pipeline is a Disaster Not Waiting to Happen

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