RFF on the Issues

RFF on the Issues: Questions from Earlier Keystone XL Debates Remain Relevant

Feb 2, 2017 | Peter Nelson

Shortly after his inauguration, President Trump resurrected the Keystone XL pipeline project. Designed to carry up to 830,000 barrels per day of oil sands crude from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast, the Keystone XL pipeline was rejected in 2015 by the Obama administration on the grounds that it was incompatible with national goals to limit US dependence on fossil fuels. The project has long been the source of contentious debate, as some see the pipeline as a step toward greater energy security and job growth, while others contend its development would harm the local environment and be a setback for efforts to mitigate climate change. Indeed, as reported in the New York Times, “As has been the case throughout the project’s history … economic forces alone will not determine its prospects. Political, commercial, environmental, and even diplomatic factors will also play a role.”

RFF’s Joel Darmstadter wrote about this range of issues surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline in a blog post from 2011, republished this week­, measuring "the economic in terms of the price of oil, the political with reference to energy security implications, and the environmental to reflect concern over climate change and other ecological impacts." In revisiting the topic, Darmstadter notes that "the issues addressed in 2011 remain salient today. That may hardly matter as Keystone decisionmaking proceeds under the Trump administration. But it may quell any notion that, among contending—and highly ideological—factions, Keystone depicts irreconcilable extremes."

Get Darmstadter’s full take: Revisiting the Keystone XL Pipeline’s Issues and Non-Issues.

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The views expressed in RFF blog posts are those of the authors and should not be attributed to Resources for the Future.