New US president Joe Biden has revoked the construction permit for the Keystone XL pipeline granted to its developer TransCanada Keystone Pipeline by his predecessor Donald Trump.
Trump granted the presidential permit, to construct, connect, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities at the US-Canada border, in March 2019. Keystone XL was designed to transport 830,000 bpd of oilsands crude from Alberta in Canada to Nebraska in the US, and was expected to begin service in 2023. However, in one of his first executive orders, Biden says that climate change is affecting the US economy and the health of the country’s people, and that the pipeline ‘disserves the US national interest’.
‘Our domestic efforts must go hand in hand with US diplomatic engagement. Because most greenhouse gas emissions originate beyond our borders, such engagement is more necessary and urgent than ever. The United States must be in a position to exercise vigorous climate leadership in order to achieve a significant increase in global climate action and put the world on a sustainable climate pathway. Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives,’ says Biden’s executive order.
TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) says that it is ‘disappointed with the expected action’ and that it overturns an unprecedented, complex, regulatory process which concluded that the pipeline would transport vital energy in an environmentally responsible way and enhance North American energy security.
It warns that the action will ‘directly lead to the layoff of thousands of union workers and negatively impact groundbreaking industry commitments to use new renewable energy as well as historic equity partnerships with indigenous communities.’ TC Energy says that it will ‘review the decision, assess its implications, and consider its options’, and it has already suspended work on the project.
According to Reuters, TC Energy has emailed staff announcing that it will cut 1,000 construction jobs in response to the executive order.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) describes the move as a ‘backwards step’ for US environmental progress and economic recovery in a statement. It says that it supports Biden’s plans to address climate change as well as the Paris Agreement, but argues that pipelines are the safest, most environmentally friendly way to transport energy.
‘The Keystone XL Pipeline has been through more than 10 years of extensive environmental reviews, and today’s announcement is a slap in the face to the thousands of union workers who are already a part of this safe and sustainable project. This misguided move will hamper America’s economic recovery, undermine North American energy security and strain relations with one of America’s greatest allies,’ says the API.