- President-elect Joe Biden will issue an executive order on his first day in office to rescind the Keystone XL pipeline project.
- The Keystone XL is part of a multi-phase construction project aimed at creating a direct oil pipeline to the US from the oil sands of Alberta.
- President Barack Obama had previously rejected the project because of the environmental threat the pipeline would create to native species and lands.
- President Donald Trump fought during his term to get the project in gear, but had little success in countering US court rulings on it.
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President-elect Joe Biden plans on canceling the controversial Keystone XL pipeline permit via executive order on his first day of office, sources told CBC News.
According to CBC, the order was part of a larger planned list of executive actions meant to reverse some of President Donald Trump’s key policies. They include re-joining the Paris Climate Accord and reversing the Muslim travel ban Trump instituted in his first days in office. Biden also plans on instituting a 100-day mask-wearing mandate.
“These executive actions will deliver relief to the millions of Americans that are struggling in the face of these crises,” Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, said in the memo released over the weekend seen by the AP. “President-elect Biden will take action – not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration – but also to start moving our country forward.”
Insider has reached out to the Biden transition team for further comment.
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline has been in development for more than ten years, and was approved by the Canadian National Energy Board in 2010. As planned, it would be a 1,179-mile pipeline running from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska, carrying more than 800,000 barrels of oil a day.
But the project failed to get off the ground during President Barack Obama’s administration. Obama balked at the plan, arguing that the environmental devastation the pipeline would cause would be too high a price to pay.
“America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action on climate change,” Obama said in 2015. “Frankly, approving that project would have undercut that global leadership, and that is the biggest risk we face: not acting.”
When Trump entered office in 2017, he almost immediately revived conversation around the pipeline, fast-tracking the project because he said it would create nearly 30,000 US jobs, a number the Washington Post disputed at the time, and ABC News noted that the vast majority of those roles would be temporary.
Environmental lobbyists were able to successfully stanch the project for several years, and by 2020, enthusiasm for the project had begun to wane. In June 2020, Trump took the Keystone XL case to the Supreme Court to dispute a lower court ruling that prevented work on the pipeline to continue because of the environmental damage it was causing. The Supreme Court sent the case back down to the lower courts.
Read more: Keystone XL does not make sense.
The reported rescission of the Keystone XL permit is among several climate change-related changes Biden’s team plans to make in the early days of his administration.
Jason Kenney, the premier of Alberta, said in a statement posted to Twitter he was concerned that rescinding the permit would “kill jobs on both sides of the border, weaken the critically important Canada-US relationship, and undermine US national security by making the United States more dependent on OPEC oil imports in the future.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that he would press for a continuation of the pipeline project with the new administration.
“It has been a long position of mine that we need to get our resources to new markets safely and securely, and that’s why I’ve always advocated for the Keystone XL pipeline,” Trudeau said in a May 2020 press conference.