By the time of the 2015 World Heavy Oil Congress, midstream companies like Kinder Morgan, Enbridge and TransMountain PipeLines had grown used to the calamity that accompanied their pipeline applications. TransCanada’s Keystone XL project had ignited the battle, drawing ferocious protests from ranchers and Indigenous people in Nebraska. This in turn had attracted opposition from regional and then national and global environmental groups, which had long searched in vain for a catalyst to intensify and expand climate change activism. Keystone XL turned oil sands pipelines into an international political issue and a proxy of the first resort for the much broader debate about climate and energy policy. In the process, the pipeline — eventually any pipeline intended to move bitumen to tidewater — became the symbol of the entire fight. It was the line in the sand, the first full and direct conflict between progress in the age of fossil fuel — defined by expanding energy use and industrial megaprojects — and progress in the age of climate change, which sought to balance economic growth and industrial development with sound environmental stewardship and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Turner, Chris. The Patch: The People, Pipelines and Politics of the Oil Sands. Simon & Schuster, 2017. p. 119 (emphasis in original)