Keystone XL pipeline work suspended as President Biden moves to revoke permit

Construction of the long-controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline was halted on Wednesday when new US President Joe Biden revoked his permit on his first day in office.

The 1,700-mile pipeline was supposed to transport around 800,000 barrels of oil daily from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast and through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.

“The permit is hereby revoked,” says Biden’s Executive Order. “If the approval for the Keystone XL pipeline remains in place, it will not meet the economic and climatic requirements of my administration.”

Richard Prior, President of Keystone XL, said over 1,000 unionized jobs will be eliminated in the coming weeks. “We will begin with a safe and orderly shutdown of construction,” he said.

First proposed in 2008, the pipeline symbolizes the tensions between economic development and curbing the fossil fuel emissions that are causing climate change. The Obama administration opposed it, but President Donald Trump revived it and was a strong supporter.

The prime minister of the oil-rich Canadian province of Alberta called Biden’s decision an “insult” and said the Canadian federal government should impose trade sanctions if they are not reversed. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau adopted a conciliatory tone.

“We are disappointed, but we acknowledge the president’s decision to keep his campaign promise for Keystone XL,” Trudeau said in a statement.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden will call Trudeau on Friday, the first call with a foreign leader after Biden took the oath of office. Psaki said the pipeline is being discussed.

Trudeau highlighted Keystone XL as a top priority when he spoke to Biden on a phone call in November. The project aims to expand critical oil exports for Canada, which has the third largest oil reserves in the world and is America’s most important source of oil abroad.

Trudeau and Biden are politically aligned and there are expectations for a return to normal relationships after four years of Trump, but the pipeline is irritating early on as Biden has long said he would cancel it.

“Despite President Biden’s decision on the project, we would like to welcome other orders made today, including the decision to re-join the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization to impose a temporary moratorium on all oil and natural gas leasing activities in the National Wildlife Refuge and to lift travel bans for several Muslim majority countries, ”Trudeau said in his statement.

Alberta Prime Minister Jason Kenney said Biden’s decision was a blow to his province, which is involved in the project.

“It is an insult to the United States’ key ally and trading partner on the first day of a new administration,” Kenney said.

“The leader of our closest ally has retrospectively vetoed the approval of a government-owned pipeline that directly attacks by far most of Canada’s US trade, namely our energy and exports.”

Critics of Alberta’s oil sands say the growing farms are increasing greenhouse gas emissions and threatening Alberta’s rivers and forests.

However, Marty Durbin, president of the Global Energy Institute of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said Biden’s decision was not scientifically based and will put thousands of Americans out of work.

“The pipeline – the best-studied infrastructure project in American history – is already under construction and has cleared countless legal and environmental hurdles,” Durbin said in a statement. “The suspension of construction will also impede the safe and efficient transportation of oil and unfairly single out the production of one of our closest and most important allies.”

Environmental groups welcomed Biden’s move.

“The final shutdown of the Keystone XL pipeline is a clear indication that climate action is a priority for the White House,” said Dale Marshall, national climate program manager for Canada’s environmental protection.

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