Oil pipeline approved by Trudeau and Trump may be now be frozen
While environmentalists will rejoice at the promise by Joe Biden to block the completion of a multibillion dollar pipeline from Canada to Texas – not everyone is overjoyed at the prospect.
Among them is Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who up to now was thought to relish the idea of seeing the back of US President Donald Trump. Oil is Canada’s largest export.
But if Biden follows through on his promise to block the Keystone XL Pipeline, it will mean a loss of billions of dollars, especially for the oil-rich provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Its not only those economies that are threatened. It also threatens the government of Trudeau himself, as the Prime Minister leads a minority government that could be challenged at any moment.
On reflection giving the pipeline a name reminiscent of the Keystone Kops, might not have been the greatest idea. The Keystone Kops were famous an amazingly incompetent police force that featured in a series of early slapstick comedies from 1912 to the 1920s.
These days, the phrase Keystone Kops is now applied not just to any bungling police department, but really to any organisation that is exceptional in its level of incompetence.
The idea for the pipeline was first launched and approved by Canadian regulators back in 2010. The US$8 billion investment was to transport some 830,000 barrels of oil per day from the Alberta oil sands to refineries in Texas.
But the pipeline hit its first block in 2015, when US President Barack Obama halted it due to environmental concerns. Where as oil has been getting a lot of negative press due to climate change, oil sands are considered to be one of the worst types of oil, pollution wise, and one of the world’s dirtiest fuel sources. But as long as oil was selling in the region of US$100 per barrel, it became attractive despite its higher cost of extraction.
President Donald Trump reversed that decision when he became President in 2017, and the pipeline was back on track and was in the process of being constructed.
When he signed the agreement shortly after his inauguration, he acknowledged that the pipeline had been in dispute, but noted that it would likely create 28,000 jobs.
But now Biden is expected to immediately rescind the permit via executive order, after his inauguration on January 20.
Biden is on record criticising the oil sands as producing a “very, very high pollutant”.
The US$8 billion pipeline would transport up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from the Alberta oil sands, which Biden has lambasted as producing a “very, very high pollutant,” to refineries in coastal Texas.
On one hand Trudeau has positioned himself as a champion of protecting the environment, while on the other has promoted this and other pipelines so as to boost Canada’s earnings from oil. Canada is believed to have the third-largest reserves of oil.
So should Canada rejoice over a new president across its southern border. Or should it regret having to deal with a president with clearly bigger green credentials?
Trudeau himself has said nothing publicly about the development recently. But the heat is on the Prime Minister to do something about it.
Erin O’Toole, the leader of the opposition Conservative Party has already said that Biden’s move will “devastate thousands of Canadian families who have already been badly hurt by the economic crisis.”
Trudeau should “immediately reach out to the incoming US administration to stop this from happening,” he said.
Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta said rescinding the permits would “kill jobs on both sides of the border” and “weaken the critically important US-Canada relationship”.
Jagmeet Singh, leader of Canada’s new Democratic Party, was in agreement. “President-Elect Biden has been clear on his KXL position from the start .Justin Trudeau knew this, did nothing and let Albertans down,” he tweeted.
“Cdns deserve more than pretty words from him. They deserve a plan that will fight climate change and help energy workers get good jobs that last.” Singh tweeted.
News about the pipeline’s possible demise, meanwhile, was welcomed by New Democrats and the Green Party, whose leader Annamie Paul said the Biden presidency presented an opportunity to advance joint climate actions.
“We have the chance of a lifetime, as we look to the inauguration of President-elect Biden,” Paul said, “because this is a president who has made it very clear that the climate is going to be at the top of his agenda.”
“We should be using our diplomacy to work with them,” she said.