Because that which has never lived cannot really die, the Keystone XL—the grinding, symbolic climate-change fight of the Obama era—has returned.
On Friday morning, President Trump formally approved the pipeline, completing a process that he began a few days into his presidency. In the United States, the pipeline as planned will stretch hundreds of miles—from Nebraska to Texas—and allow oil from the tar sands of Alberta to be exported from the Gulf of Mexico.
“TransCanada will finally be allowed to complete this long-overdue project with efficiency and with speed,” said Trump. “It’s going to be an incredible pipeline, the greatest technology known to man or woman. And frankly, we’re very proud of it.”
A few hours later, activists and indigenous leaders from across the country piled onto a press call to tell reporters that the years-long fight wasn’t over yet.
“This project is going to be fought at every turn,” said Bill McKibben, a co-founder of the climate-activism group 350.org and one of the first organizers of anti-Keystone protests. “There’s nothing static about this project. In the six or seven years since we started fighting it, the price of a solar panel has fallen 75 percent.”
McKibben and other leaders outlined an all-out assault on every aspect of the pipeline’s completion. The fight has taken on higher stakes. During the early 2010s, global oil price were high. It’s expensive to drill in the Albertan tar sands, but the overall cost of oil would have made it feasible even if no pipeline was built. But as the price of crude has fallen around the world, the Albertan tar sands will likely only now get drilled if there’s a cheap way to transport their haul—like an extra-large pipeline, for instance.