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Work on Keystone XL pipeline suspended ahead of Biden action

Last Updated Jan 20, 2021 at 8:23 am PDT

Pipes intended for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline are shown in Gascoyne, N.D. on Wednesday April 22, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Panetta
Summary

Keystone XL oil pipeline expansion has been paused

Canadian company behind Keystone XL pipeline says it's suspended work in anticipation of Joe Biden revoking permit

Canadian officials tried to make the case for the pipeline to the incoming Biden administration

TORONTO — The Canadian company behind the Keystone XL oil pipeline said Wednesday it has suspended work on the expansion project in anticipation of incoming U.S. President Joe Biden revoking its permit.

Biden’s Day One plans included moving to revoke a presidential permit for the pipeline.

The 2,735-kilometre pipeline would carry roughly 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.

“TC Energy will review the decision, assess its implications, and consider its options. However, as a result of the expected revocation of the Presidential Permit, advancement of the project will be suspended,” the Calgary, Alberta-based company said in a statement.

First proposed in 2008, the pipeline has become emblematic of the tensions between economic development and curbing the fossil fuel emissions that are causing climate change. The Obama administration rejected it, but President Donald Trump revived it and has been a strong supporter. Construction already started.

Canadian officials tried to make the case for the pipeline to the incoming Biden administration. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised Keystone XL as a top priority when he spoke with Biden in a phone call in November. The project is meant to expand critical oil exports for Canada, which has the third-largest oil reserves in the world.

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Jason Kenney, premier of the oil-rich province of Alberta, said late Tuesday he urged Trudeau to tell Biden that “rescinding the Keystone XL border crossing permit would damage the Canada-US bilateral relationship.”

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

Trudeau has tried to balance the oil industry’s desire for more pipelines with environmentalists’ concerns. He cancelled one major pipeline to the Pacific coast from oil-rich Alberta, but approved another and instituted a national carbon tax.