In anticipation of a favorable judicial ruling and corresponding green light to proceed in a US District Court, TC Energy, based in Calgary, Canada has begun preliminary work along the route of the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline through the United States. On the opposing side, environmentalists await the court's ruling on their request to block any further development of the contested pipeline.
TC Energy announced this week that it was moving equipment this week to Keystone's right of way route and will commence with chopping down trees along the pipeline's 1200-km route. Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska are all targeted in these preliminary steps, part of Phase IV of the Keystone XL development.
According to the Associated Press, the company plans next month to begin construction at the line’s border crossing in northern Montana. That would be a huge milestone for a project first proposed in 2008 that has since attracted bitter opposition from climate activists who say fossil fuel usage must be curbed to combat global warming.
“It is irresponsible for TC Energy to jump the gun before Judge Morris rules on our motion,” Stephan Volker, an attorney for the Indigenous Environmental Network and North Coast Rivers Alliance, said Wednesday. Just last October another oil pipeline in TC Energy’s Keystone network spilled an estimated 383,000 gallons of oil in eastern North Dakota. Critics say a damaging spill from Keystone XL is inevitable given the length of the line and the many rivers and other waterways it would cross beneath.
The pipeline would transport up to 830,000 barrels (35 million gallons) of crude oil daily from western Canada to terminals on the U.S. Gulf Coast.