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Keystone is key—several projects won’t be developed without it

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Keystone is key—several projects won’t be developed without it

Farrell 3/11

(Bryan Farrell is an editor at Waging Nonviolence, where he writes about environment, climate change and people power. “There’s no success like failure, when it comes to movement building,” March 11, 2014,

The existence of more pipelines flowing out of Alberta’s tar sands is not evidence that the broad-based campaign against the Keystone XL was misguided to begin with, as many pundits have argued. For one thing, it has elevated the first cries of protest from people living along the pipeline route and exposed the ways in which the fossil fuel industry exploits those unfortunate enough to live on the front lines of its dirty practices. Secondly, despite the multitude of contingency plans the tar sands industry has in place should the Keystone XL not gain approval, none are as important as the Keystone XL itself. Recent reports have shown that many tar sands projects will not be economically viable without the Keystone XL. More broadly speaking, however, should a campaign that took a little-known project on the fast track toward approval and made it a national issue of debate, delaying progress for nearly three years, really be considered a failure, or a waste of time and energy? At worst, the campaign against the Keystone XL has galvanized a national climate movement at an utterly critical moment — given these two other tar sands pipelines and the many other fossil fuel projects in progress around the United States and Canada.

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