Biden to cancel Keystone XL pipeline via executive order

The move from the Biden administration will be one of many executive orders the incoming administration plans to implement in their first few days in office.


America's incoming Biden administration is planning on scrapping the Keystone XL pipeline project via executive order, possibly within Joe Biden's first day in office, according to documents from the Biden transition team, Global News reports.

"Roll back Trump enviro actions via EO (including rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit)," the document says of the $8 billion project.

The move from the Biden administration will be one of many executive orders the incoming administration plans to implement in their first few days in office. Biden has already promised publicly that he would implement a number of executive orders in his first few days designed to reverse some of the policies of the Trump administration. Some of those policies are related to climate change, which appears to be the motivation for Biden's decision on Keystone XL.

The Keystone XL pipeline, which was supposed to deliver 830,000 barrels of oil from the Alberta oil sands to Nebraska, was originally proposed in 2008, but faced opposition from the administration of President Barack Obama due to climate policy and allegations that it would mostly benefit Canada rather than the United States. Environmentalist groups had also placed high degrees of pressure on the Obama administration to ensure the project does not go through.

2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had made it a campaign promise to build the pipeline as did Donald Trump four years later. Trump approved the construction of the pipeline via presidential permit in 2017, while Biden made it a campaign promise to scrap the project, saying in May of 2020 that he would be "proud" to "stop it for good."

200 kilometers of the pipeline has already been constructed, despite political and legal challenges.

TC Energy, the company responsible for building the pipeline, has attempted to appease the incoming Biden administration by proposing a plan for the pipeline to meet net-zero emissions by 2023.

"Climate change is a serious issue and we have an important role to play in managing GHG emissions while balancing the need for safe, reliable and economic energy," said TC Energy chief executive Francois Poirier.

This would be accomplished by TC Energy constructing renewable energy projects alongside the pipeline, and purchasing renewable energy credits to offset any impact on the climate the pipeline has. The use of renewables to support the project was expected to cost $1.7 billion, exemplifying how far TC Energy is willing to go to appease the Biden administration.

"We are confident that Keystone XL is not only the safest and most reliable method to transport oil to markets, but the initiatives announced today also ensure it will have the lowest environmental impact of an oil pipeline in terms of greenhouse gas emissions," said project president Richard Prior.

TC Energy has taken other steps to win approval from the Biden administration, including a promise that the pipeline would be constructed exclusively using unionized labour.

The Canadian government, which has made construction of the pipeline a priority, has also vigorously lobbied in favour of its construction to the Biden team, but to no avail.

Canadian ambassador to the United States Kirsten Hillman has argued for months that the project is much cleaner than when it was rejected by the Obama administration in 2015. "Not only has the project itself changed significantly since it was first proposed, but Canada’s oilsands production has also changed significantly," Hillman said on Sunday. "Per-barrel oilsands (greenhouse gas) emissions have dropped 31 per cent since 2000, and innovation will continue to drive progress."

The Liberal government had been hoping that given their shared priorities with the Biden administration on tackling climate change, some sort of deal would be able to be made.

"Keystone XL fits within Canada’s climate plan," Hillman said, noting that it would serve as an important job creator "at a time when our economic recovery is a top priority."

"Underpinned by a crucial and long-standing trade and security partnership, there is no better partner for the U.S. on climate action than Canada as we work together for green transition," she said.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney expressed his disappointment with the revelation, stating that Albertans "renew our call on the incoming administration to show respect for Canada as the United States' most important trading partner and strategically." With his province's economy reliant on oil, however, Kenney has made it clear that he will fight to keep the project alive.

Kenney argued that the cancellation of the project would not only kill jobs and slow economic development, but would also jeopardize American national security by forcing them to further rely on oil imports from OPEC nations. The United States, however, is a net exporter of petroleum products as of 2019.

Kenney said that Alberta would "work with TC Energy to use all legal avenues available to protect its interest in the project."

Similar comments were made by Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, who tweeted "[while] I am urging the prime minister to leverage his relationship with Mr. Biden, Saskatchewan will continue exercising our contacts in Washington D.C. to advocate for the continuation of this project that clearly benefits both of our nations."

Conservative Party of Canada leader Erin O'Toole also expressed support for fighting for the project. "I call on the prime minister to immediately reach out to the incoming U.S. administration to stop this from happening and stand up for working Canadians across Canada," O'Toole pleaded. "I also call upon the incoming US administration to meet with our prime minister and affected workers prior to making this decision."

O'Toole said the cancellation would "devastate thousands of Canadian families."

The cancellation of the project would be a major victory for environmentalist groups that have been fighting the project for over a decade.


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