Hours after he was sworn into office, U.S. President Joe Biden has signed an executive order to revoke the permit that would allow the Keystone XL pipeline expansion project to continue.
The project which was previously approved by TC Energy would see the 1,930-kilometre pipeline transport up to 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to Nebraska.
The project was expected to cost US$8 billion.
The expansion was green-lit by former U.S. president Donald Trump in January of last year.
TC Energy suspends work on Keystone XL pipeline project
However, Biden had long promised to rescind the presidential permit in keeping with his campaign promise to shift the U.S. from fossil fuels and towards clean energy.
Speaking to CNBC last year, Biden said the pipeline “is tar sands that we don’t need — that in fact (are a) very, very high pollutant.”
Biden said claims that shutting down the Keystone pipeline would do undue damage to the oil industry are “just not rational,” adding that the arguments do not make any environmental or economic sense.
Speaking at a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he discussed the pipeline issue with then-president-elect Biden in a conversation “a number of weeks ago.”
“We have highlighted, including in a direct conversation I had with president-elect Biden a number of weeks ago, that Canada has… become a global leader on the fight against climate change… and that Keystone XL continues to be an important project for us,” he said.
TC Energy halts Keystone XL pipeline project
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney told reporters on Monday that cancelling the project would be an “economic and strategic error that would set back Canada-U.S. relations with the United States’ most important trading partner and strategic ally: Canada.”
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Kenney urged Biden to “show Canada respect” and “actually sit down and hear our case about how we can be partners in prosperity, partners in combatting climate change, partners in energy security.”
Just ahead of the announcement Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau told Global News that “from the beginning Canada has stated our position in support of Keystone.”
“And the reason for [this] is because it’s good for both of the countries,” he said. “And we’ve made that very clear in terms of jobs, but also for energy security.”
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However, Garneau said the government was aware of Biden’s plans to rescind the permits.
“And we understand that and we respect that,” he said. “So we will be there, of course, for the people of Alberta and we will continue to work with the United States on the important question of energy security as we move forward.”
Garneau said he is “very optimistic” about the relationship between Canada and the U.S.“I named a bunch of areas of cooperation: trade, security, climate change, fighting racism,” he said. “And I think there’s an enormous amount of commonality that we have between our two countries.”
He said the U.S. is Canada’s “most important relationship.”
“But you can’t expect everybody on either side to always agree 100 per cent on everything,” he continued.
“So our relationship has been strong and has lasted for well since the beginning, and we will continue that relationship.”
Alberta premier blasts Biden’s plan to nix Keystone XL project
Earlier on Wednesday, TC Energy Corp. suspended work on the Keystone XL project in anticipation of the permit being removed.
The Calgary-based company said it will suspend construction and warned there could be a “substantive” predominantly non-cash, after-tax charge to earnings in the first quarter of 2021.
TC Energy said the decision would lead to layoffs for thousands of unionized construction workers.
Biden also signed an order to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement on Wednesday, a legally binding international treaty on climate change which his predecessor dropped out of in 2017.
-More to come…
-With a file from Global News’ Rachel Gilmore, The Canadian Press and Reuters
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