Biden vowing to rip up Keystone XL approvals if former VP wins White House

Biden vowing to rip up Keystone XL approvals if former VP wins White House

Biden vowing to rip up Keystone XL approvals if former VP wins White House

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden’s campaign promised Monday to rip up U.S. President Donald Trump’s approvals for the Keystone XL pipeline if the former vice-president succeeds in taking over the White House next year.

Campaign officials finally ended the presumptive Democrat nominee’s months of self-imposed silence on how he would handle the politically sensitive expansion project, an ambitious, 1,900-kilometre heavy-oil line that would move 830,000 barrels of Alberta bitumen each day over the Canada-U.S. border to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

It wouldn’t be the first time that Biden has stood in the way of the Calgary-based TC Energy expansion. As vice-president, he was a key member of Barack Obama’s administration, which slow-walked the project — championed by the former Conservative government — throughout Obama’s second term before finally blocking construction outright shortly after the Liberals were elected in 2015.

“Stopping Keystone was the right decision then and it’s still the right decision now. In fact, it’s even more important today,” policy director Stef Feldman said in a written statement, first reported by Politico.

Trump, meanwhile, has spent “every day of his presidency” ignoring the looming climate crisis, making matters worse by pulling the U.S. out of the Paris accord, weakening national fuel standards, and rolling back regulations for air and water pollution, Feldman continued.

“That denial of science ends on Day 1 of a Biden presidency,” she said. “Biden strongly opposed the Keystone pipeline in the last administration, stood alongside President Obama and Secretary (of State John) Kerry to reject it in 2015, and will proudly stand in the Roosevelt Room again as president and stop it for good by rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit.”

TC Energy spokesman Terry Cunha issued a statement late Monday that ignored the comments from the Biden campaign, instead extolling the virtues of Keystone XL as an engine of investment and jobs growth “in a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty and unemployment.”

“The project will further stimulate millions of dollars in new provincial, state and local taxes along the pipeline route and also ensures our energy demands are met with North American production improving the security of our domestic supply chains,” the statement said.

No other pipeline project has been as extensively examined as Keystone XL, it added, “and every study had squarely concluded it can be built safely and in an environmentally sound manner.”

The $8-billion US expansion, long a central element of efforts in Canada to expand export markets for Canadian fossil fuel, has been beset by delays, protests and injunctions almost since its inception. It became a major flashpoint in 2011 when celebrity-studded protests outside the White House helped crystallize environmental opposition to the energy sector.

Trump has repeatedly sought to kick-start the project, signing an executive order in the earliest days of his presidency that was thwarted by a federal judge in Montana who concluded the State Department had not adequately assessed the potential environmental impact of the project.

The president signed a fresh permit in March that not only cleared the way for construction, but also appeared designed to prevent further legal problems with State Department permits. But again, a Montana court halted the project on the grounds that the impact on endangered species in the state hadn’t been properly assessed.

In the meantime, Keystone XL has come to define the widening fissure between an energy industry that’s straining to redefine its mission in the 21st century and growing public opposition to North America’s dependency on fossil fuels — a tension that has created deep-seated political challenges in Canada, where the oilpatch is central to the country’s economic fortunes.

“Rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline is the touchstone of any meaningful plan to address the climate crisis,” said Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, the North American director of 350 Action, the political wing of climate-justice group 350.org.

“Tribal nations, farmers and ranchers, and many other communities who have resisted Keystone XL for more than a decade know this pipeline would derail all plans for climate survival and adaptation.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has committed $1.5 billion to the expansion, along with a $6-billion loan guarantee, as his Conservative government extends outreach efforts in the U.S. in hopes of breathing new life into a sector hit hard in recent months by record-low oil prices and the economic impact of COVID-19.

“We will be investing significantly more, as we emerge from the pandemic, in Alberta’s presence in the United States,” Kenney told a roundtable discussion last week hosted by the Canadian American Business Council.

“These decisions move the project off the drawing boards and into actual construction, which began a month ago — the Canada-U.S. border crossing between Saskatchewan and Montana has already been put in the ground.”

Kenney appeared to brush off the Montana court decision as just another layer of “regulatory complexity” for TC Energy in areas where the line will intersect with U.S. waterways.

“Otherwise, we are optimistic that the project will continue towards its projected date of commissioning in June of 2023,” he said, noting that with U.S. refineries no longer processing heavy crude from Mexico and Venezuela due to suppressed energy demand, the time is right for Alberta to expand its shipping capacity.

“Those refineries are hungry for that energy; they will be hungry when we get past the coronavirus,” he said. “We actually think that emerging from this, there will be an opportunity for the Alberta energy sector.”

Earlier this month, TC Energy said crews were working ahead of schedule, staging pipe and building work camps while studying ways to continue construction even if the ruling blocks U.S. river crossings along the 1,930-kilometre route from Alberta to Nebraska.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2020.

— Follow James McCarten on Twitter @CdnPressStyle

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

Keystone XL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. announces signage along Alberta border to discourage non-essential travel

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Alberta begins rolling out AstraZeneca COVID vaccine for those aged 40 or older

There are more than 70 pharmacies offering AstraZeneca, including 26 offering walk-in appointments

A child writes in their school notebook during a home schooling session in Cremona, Alta., Monday, March 23, 2020, amid the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of students in Calgary will shift to online learning as of today in a bid to curb rising COVID-19 infection rates in the city. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Online classes begin for some Alberta students amid rising COVID-19 cases

Alberta currently has the highest rate of active COVID-19 cases in the country

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

The Rogers logo is photographed in Toronto on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Rogers investigating after wireless customers complain of widespread outage

According to Down Detector, problems are being reported in most major Canadian cities

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

Most Read