Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People


Sue Kelso stands halfway between her property line and her neighbor's, where the TransCanada's pipeline was moved. The yellow ribbons over her shoulder mark the pipeline's future path, she says.

The Economic and Environmental Impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline



This map shows the original route of the Keystone XL pipeline. Construction on the southern portion, from Oklahoma to Texas, has already started.

TransCanada’s Keystone XL is a pipeline project that will transport crude from oil sands in Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas.

The pipeline project became political in January 2011, when President Barack Obama rejected TransCanada’s permit, which required presidential approval because it crosses an international boundary.

Keystone XL’s original route would have traversed the ecologically sensitive Sand Hills region of Nebraska, which prompted protests from environmentalists.

TransCanada has re-applied for a presidential permit, and has reached agreement with officials in Nebraska on an environmental impact study.

After the permit reject, TransCanada announced plans to start the pipeline’s southern portion — the 485-mile Keystone Gulf extension —which links Oklahoma’s pipeline hub in Cushing with refineries in Texas.

Many people question Keystone XL’s impact on the economy and the environment, and landowners in Oklahoma and Texas have fought against the pipeline, which TransCanada has tried to install by force through eminent domain.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

President Barack Obama visited an Oklahoma pipe yard and pledged his support for the Cushing-to-Texas Keystone Gulf pipeline.

Jobs Claims

TransCanada claims the Keystone XL project would create 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs and more than 100,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs.

But a study from Cornell University found that the pipeline project would create only 20 full-time jobs. Up to 90 percent of those hired for temporary work would be non-local and hired from out-of-state, according to the study.

Oklahoma would see between 600 and 800 construction-related jobs while the pipeline was being built, company officials said.

Environmental Impact

Critics say the type of Canadian crude Keystone XL will move is especially risky because it’s thicker, more acidic and carries abrasive particles that are more corrosive to pipelines.

The company disputes this and argues that dilbit crude has been flowing into the United States for years.

TransCanada reworked the southern route of Keystone XL to avoid sensitive wetlands in Texas

Latest Posts

With Keystone Pipeline Online, Analysts Expect it to Help Bust Oklahoma’s Oil Glut

The Obama administration still hasn’t decided whether to move forward with the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been stuck in environmental impact study limbo for almost two years. But but the southernmost section of the controversial pipeline, which put Oklahoma in the middle of a debate about energy, environment and economics, is now operational.

Oil From Oklahoma Hub is Filling Southern Leg of Keystone XL Pipeline

Crude oil has started filling the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline, which is expected to go into service on Jan. 3, 2014. Over the next few weeks, pipeline operator TransCanada will inject 3 million barrels into the 485-mile pipeline, which connects Oklahoma’s Cushing oil hub with refineries along the Gulf Coast, The Oklahoman‘s [...]

Why Protesters Have a Hard Time Making Case Against the Keystone XL Pipeline

A Sept. 21 protest against the Keystone XL Pipeline attracted 74 people who walked a portion of the pipeline’s proposed route, The Journal Record reports. The event, organized by the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club, was part of a national day of protest, and featured both local and regional activists and speakers who are [...]

Why Obama’s Keystone XL Climate Change Comments Confused Everyone

It’s hard to know where President Barack Obama stands on the Keystone XL pipeline project, which still awaits his approval. Obama has rejected Transcanada’s permit for the Canada-to-Texas pipeline in the past, but championed parts of the project during a 2012 trip to the pipeline’s hub in Cushing, Oklahoma. And the president’s climate change address [...]

Cushing Oil Hub Will Grow With or Without Keystone XL, Pipeline Exec. Says

The northern portion of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is still awaiting President Barack Obama’s approval, but even if the project was stopped, Oklahoma’s oil hub in Cushing would continue to grow, a pipeline industry advocate said Wednesday. Keystone XL is designed to carry crude oil from Canada’s tar sands through Oklahoma on its way [...]

This is What the Keystone XL Pipeline Looks Like

A worker inspects a segment of the Keystone Pipeline before it's lowered into a trench near Stroud, Okla.

Construction of the southern portion of TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline has been underway since August, and crews in Oklahoma started laying, welding, inspecting and burying the bright, teal-green pipeline in November.

Wanna Prevent Protests? Protect the Environment, Oil Execs Tell Themselves

The Keystone XL Pipeline in Nebraska, a state where environmental concern over the proposed pathway forced planners to reroute the pipeline away from ecologically sensitive areas.

Executives and experts with oil and natural gas companies met in Oklahoma City earlier this week to talk shop. And while the desire for more pipelines dominated much of the discussion — Keystone XL is just the beginning, apparently — the Journal Record‘s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports that maintaining the public trust over environmental issues was [...]

Why Oklahoma Oil Billionaire Harold Hamm Switched Sides on the Keystone XL Pipeline

President Barack Obama speaking to supporters in a pipe yard in Cushing, Okla., where the Keystone XL Pipeline connects on its way from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is a key part of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, which Oklahoma oil billionaire Harold Hamm is helping craft as chief energy adviser. But only three years ago, Hamm — chairman and CEO of Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources — used to be “one of the most effective” opponents of the pipeline project, [...]

Meet the Woman Who Moved a Pipeline

Sue Kelso stands halfway between her property line and her neighbor's, where the TransCanada's pipeline was moved. The yellow ribbons over her shoulder mark the pipeline's future path, she says.

This is the final story in a four-part collaborative series by StateImpact Oklahoma and Texas on the economic and environmental impact of the Keystone XL pipeline. You can read part one here, part two here and part three here. Sue Kelso fought TransCanada and won … sort of. AUDIO BY LOGAN LAYDEN

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