Biden cancels major Canadian energy project on Day One

Jan 29, 2021 | Headlines, News

Hours after the Canadian government congratulated new U.S president Joe Biden brought the end to the Keystone XL pipeline that could have a lasting impact on Canada’s oil industry.

Biden signed an executive order on Jan. 20 to cancel the construction of the U.S. $9 billion Keystone XL pipeline, a significant energy initiative supported by his predecessor Donald Trump.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was working ahead of inauguration to avoid the cancellation and continued his advocacy with Biden to reverse his decision in a phone call Friday.

But, since Biden included cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline in his platform since running for the Democratic nomination, it was unlikely the president would make a u-turn.

Trudeau acknowledged as much and said in a statement he understood the issue was important to the newly-elected president despite his own disappointment.

Environmental advocacy groups however hailed the cancellation as a win.

Members of the Green Party and the New Democrat Party went further and argued this was a chance for Trudeau to implement his election promise of funding retraining workers for the green economy.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who leads the province that stands to benefit the most economically from the pipeline, said he was “deeply disturbed” by Biden’s action in a statement following the rollback.

Kenney argued Canada’s emissions reduction plans are “more ambitious” than the new government in Washington, D.C., and so Keystone XL should be considered part of the shift to green energy.

“And now a decision has been made without even giving Canada a chance to communicate formally with the new administration,” he said. “That’s not how you treat a friend and ally.”

Indigenous communities in Canada were divided on the Keystone XL. Some groups feared the environmental impact of Canada’s crude oil while others were supportive of the project because of the employment opportunities it offered.

Dale Swampy, president of the National Coalition of Chiefs, told The Canadian Press that Indigenous Peoples in Alberta are “closely entrenched” with the oil and gas industry there.

Dr. Sui Sui, a professor in Global Management studies at Ryerson University, told Et Cetera that Biden’s move wasn’t personal.

“I don’t think [the executive order] is targeting the Canadian government,” Sui said. Instead, it’s “a clear message” the U.S. is ready to fight climate change again after four years of Trump.

The U.S. president explained Jan. 22 he isn’t looking to hurt Ottawa with another economic hit after the Keystone XL cancellation.

“The President acknowledged Prime Minister Trudeau’s disappointment regarding the decision to rescind the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, and reaffirmed his commitment to maintain an active bilateral dialogue and to further deepen cooperation with Canada,” a White House briefing statement said.

Sui shared the same mindset of many Canadian experts, that the certainty a Biden White House will provide in comparison to the sometimes chaotic approach by Trump in regards to commerce with Canada will be much appreciated.

While in the short term, the loss of Keystone XL project will be painful to Canada, in particular Alberta, Sui said the long-term benefits of a Biden presidency will include more predictability for Ottawa and a renewed partner in the fight against climate change.

Biden has since taking office on Jan. 20 signed executive orders that the U.S. rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, and to ensure science plays a major role in fighting climate change.