If ever there was an environmental battle exemplifying a game of ping pong, it would be the stop-start story of the Keystone XL pipeline, also known as KXL. From the time it was proposed in 2008, through seven years of dogged citizen protest and various conflicting legislative orders by the federal government, the path for this controversial oil pipeline has never been smooth. In the most recent chapter of the fight, President Obama vetoed the pipeline in November 2015—acknowledging its pervasive threats to ecosystems, drinking water sources, and public health; and advancing a national commitment to decreasing our reliance on dirty energy. Then, immediately after taking office, President Trump reversed course on Obama’s pledge. In January, he signed an executive order to advance Keystone XL (as well as the Dakota Access Pipeline, and in March, the U.S. State Department issued the pipeline developers their long-sought cross-border permit, reversing course on the department’s own previous decision, claiming the project would now “support U.S. priorities relating to energy security, economic development, and infrastructure.” Here’s an overview of the export tar sands pipeline that’s become one of the foremost climate controversies of our time.
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