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Conservatives call to revive Keystone XL, but the pipeline company has moved on

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

A popular conservative talking point about rising gas prices and the crisis in Ukraine calls for the U.S. to revive the Keystone XL Pipeline. President Biden revoked its permit on his first day in office under pressure from tribal members and environmental activists. Despite pleas to reverse course, the company behind Keystone XL is busy liquidating assets. Arielle Zionts with South Dakota Public Broadcasting reports.

ARIELLE ZIONTS, BYLINE: As soon as oil prices spiked after Russia invaded Ukraine, conservative politicians across the country started beating the drum to revive Keystone XL.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

KRISTI NOEM: When he canceled the Keystone pipeline on day one of his presidency, he sent a clear message to Putin.

MIKE ROUNDS: President Biden should come back and authorize the pipelines, which he has stopped in his first days in office. The Keystone XL is an example.

JOE MANCHIN: We should have built that pipeline. I still think we should build that pipeline.

ZIONTS: That was Governor Kristi Noem and Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. Not in front of the cameras, though, was Bill Taylor, an attorney representing TC Energy, the pipeline company. He spoke at a hearing in South Dakota this week, securing the return of a $15 million road bond.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BILL TAYLOR: I have to tell you, I never thought I'd be here asking for the termination of the project. I always thought I'd be here telling you that the oil was flowing.

ZIONTS: Keystone XL was supposed to carry oil from Canadian tar sands across Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Experts said most of the crude would have been processed at the Gulf refineries, but there's debate over whether most of the final product would have been sold in the U.S. or to overseas markets. TC Energy has already removed underground pipes in Montana, sold land in South Dakota and dropped an eminent domain case in Nebraska. Still, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte this week joined the chorus, writing the White House asking Biden to approve the pipeline. For NPR News, I'm Arielle Zionts in Rapid City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.