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Keystone Activists: It's Time to Celebrate

After years of public comments, rallies, marches, sit-ins and civil disobedience, President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline — an incredible victory for our climate, wildlife and the millions of you who raised your voices against this disastrous project.

Take a moment to savor this historic victory with us.

Just a few years ago, the pipeline was considered a done deal — yet another oil industry project that couldn’t be defeated. That was before we came together to build the most powerful climate movement the United States has ever seen. Since then, thousands have been arrested at the White House in peaceful protest, tens of thousands participated in No KXL rallies in all 50 states, millions of Americans sent comments voicing their opposition, and farmers and tribes along the route united to protect their lands.

Together we stood strong and defeated this pipeline, sending an unmistakable message demanding a healthy, livable planet for all and sane energy policies that put people and wildlife before pollution and profit. This hard-earned win attests to the power of the climate movement and sends an undeniable message that Americans want clean energy now.

Thank you for your part in making history today — but our work isn’t done yet.

We need to build on this momentum, using our grassroots power to push for the widespread changes we need to protect our planet and ensure a viable future for our children. That includes backing the “zero emissions by 2050” plan at the Paris Climate Summit later this year, a ban on new fossil fuel leasing on public lands and oceans, stronger rules to cut emissions at power plants and more reductions in methane emissions from oil and gas production.

Check out the Center's No Tar Sands Campaign, which goes beyond Keystone and confronts the tar sands industry head-on across North America to keep this toxic, climate-killing fuel in the ground.


Check out our new video of the hazards of America's dangerous pipelines. (An earlier version of this video, called "One Lime-lapse Big Oil Doesn't Want You to See," went viral on the popular website Upworthy.)

(You can also watch a fun video showing the Center's Frostpaw the Polar Bear doing a rap about Keystone XL.)


No matter how you look at it, Keystone XL would have been bad for wildlife, especially endangered species.

Many imperiled species live along the 1,700-mile proposed pipeline's path and in areas where tar sands oil is produced. If the pipeline had been built, most would have nowhere else to go. 

The Center for Biological Diversity released a report called In Harm’s Way: How the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Have Ignored the Dangers of the Keystone XL Pipeline to Endangered Species.

Our analysis finds that at least 12 threatened and endangered species in four states would have been put in harm’s way by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. They include whooping cranes, interior least terns, American burying beetles, northern swift foxes, greater sage grouse, piping plovers, pallid sturgeons and black-footed ferrets.

Threats from this project included habitat destruction from the massive ground disturbance this pipeline would have caused, bird deaths from power-line collisions and the potentially catastrophic impacts of pipeline spills.


Pipeline Spills

  • The agencies in charge of evaluating spill risks minimized the risk and consequences of Keystone XL spilling.
  • KXL would have spilled an average of 1.9 times annually, releasing an average of 34,000 gallons of dirty tar sands oil each year. Past tar sands oil spills have devastated local wildlife, but the State Department has failed to consider the cumulative effects of spills on terrestrial wildlife and migratory birds in important bird areas.
  • Even though the agencies admitted that the toxic effects of tar sands spills can reduce entire populations or biological communities of sensitive species, they came to the unsupported conclusion that endangered species such as the pallid sturgeon and American burying beetle would not have been adversely affected by pipeline spills.

Power Lines

  • Keystone XL would have required the construction of 378 miles of new power lines, creating significant collision threats for imperiled birds and bats.
  • Only about 300 endangered whooping cranes remain in the wild. Almost the entirety of the pipeline’s proposed route through Nebraska was within the migratory corridor used by 90 percent of these whooping cranes, and cranes are particularly susceptible to collisions because their bodies are lanky. The agencies in charge wrongly concluded that by utilizing bird flight diverters — devices that scientists deem only marginally effective — power-line collisions wouldn’t have adversely affect whooping cranes or other avian species.

Ground Disturbance

  • Construction on just the northern U.S. segment of the Keystone XL pipeline would have directly disturbed about 15,500 acres and would require the construction of hundreds of new roads.
  • While the State Department admitted that building KXL could result in the crushing of endangered northern swift foxes with young in dens, the State Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ignored their legal duty to consider impacts to these tiny, imperiled foxes under the Endangered Species Act.

International Wildlife Impacts

  • By creating new infrastructure to move dirty tar sands oil, building KXL would have allowed for more tar sands extraction in Canada’s rich boreal forest. Threatened woodland caribou are experiencing a rapid decline due to loss of habitat in the tar sands region, with one once-vast herd tragically expected to soon fall to fewer than 10 individuals.
  • Increasing tar sands extraction will have devastating climate impacts. Species like the Arctic’s polar bear and emperor penguin are already swiftly declining due to climate change, and building KXL would have exacerbated this problem.

Thank you for standing with us in opposing this dangerous project.


Check out our Say No to Keystone signs, our polar bear mask and our factsheet:

Banner or Flyer: Say No to Keystone

Banner or Flyer: Stand Up for Wildlife, Say No to Keystone

Banner or Flyer: Tar Sands Kill, Pipelines Spill

Yard Sign: Say No to Keystone



Polar Bear Mask

Keystone XL Factsheet

Learn more about the dangers of Keystone.