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Obituary: Keystone XL, age 7, choked on political baloney

Dressed as a Polar Bear climate control activist Catherine Kilduff from the Center for Biological Diversity holds a victory sign after after President Obama announced that he would reject the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal, at the White House November 6, 2015 in Washington, DC.

The Keystone XL project, age 7, passed away on Friday, the victim of protracted political gamesmanship.

In its short life, the humble pipeline was able to achieve a symbolic power that elevated its public profile beyond its actual importance. Keystone XL may be gone, but its status as an exaggerated representation of greenhouse gas emissions (which it never really had all that much to do with) will live on. As will the oilsands, regardless of what American environmentalists may think yesterday’s tragedy has achieved.

Keystone XL came into this world in 2008, in Calgary, where parent company TransCanada Inc. proposed an expansion to its existing Keystone network that would transport crude from northern Alberta to Port Arthur, Texas.

As a youngster, the project seemed not much different than other projects in its class. Keystone XL would be a major extension to an existing cross-border pipeline, but only one of many in a pipeline network that crosses the U.S.-Canadian border dozens of times, linking domestic crude, foreign imports, refineries and finished gasoline to their respective markets.

It’s not impossible to imagine an outcome in which Keystone XL would have survived to live its life to the fullest. However, the project was barely conceived before spin doctors diagnosed at least two major flaws that would prove to be fatal: timing and politics.

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