The pushback from Canada I wrote about on Tuesday has apparently fallen on deaf ears for the incoming new administration, and President Joe Biden will likely move to cancel the cross-border permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline System. That move could effectively kill the project to complete the northern leg of the system which would facilitate the import of large volumes of heavy Canadian crude every day for refining in the United States.
The question that too few, if any, in the news media will ask the new President is, why? Why would a President who likes to portray himself as a champion of the environment move to cancel a pipeline that has pledged to turn itself into America’s first all-renewable energy interstate/international pipeline system? Other than a simple raw exercise in political power designed to impress one of the Democratic Party’s most loyal and powerful interest groups, the move makes little sense. It also shows how dominant the anti-fossil fuel lobby has become in recent years over one of that Party’s former powerful interest groups, organized labor.
Reacting to President Biden’s decision, Thomas Pyle, President of the American Energy Alliance, put it this way: “The Keystone pipeline is nearly completely built and an important link for North America’s economic security. The decision today to rescind the permit makes it crystal clear that Mr. Biden stands with the extreme green lobby and not average Americans.”
In a press release issued on Sunday, TC Energy, the owner and operator of the Keystone XL System made a series of strong environmental and labor-related pledges in a last ditch attempt to head off the looming presidential order to cancel its permit. Among those commitments were the following:
- The Keystone XL System would achieve net-zero emissions in its operations by the year 2023;
- While the net-zero goal would be achieved largely through the trading in renewable energy credits, the system would become fully powered by new investments in renewable energy capacity by 2030;
- A promise to “spur an investment of over US$1.7 billion in communities along the Keystone XL footprint creating approximately 1.6 gigawatts of renewable electric capacity, and thousands of construction jobs in rural and Indigenous communities;”
- The company also committed to “working with union labor in the U.S. and Canada,” pointed to the fact that “Keystone XL has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) to work together on the construction of TC Energy owned or sourced renewable energy projects.”
MORE FOR YOU
“Since it was initially proposed more than 10 years ago, the Keystone XL project has evolved with the needs of North America, our communities and the environment,” said Richard Prior, President of Keystone XL. “We are confident that Keystone XL is not only the safest and most reliable method to transport oil to markets, but the initiatives announced today also ensures it will have the lowest environmental impact of an oil pipeline in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Canada and the United States are among the most environmentally responsible countries in the world with some of the strictest standards for fossil fuel production.”
So, you might ask, why would a Democratic Party President move on his very first day in office to cancel such an environmentally responsible project committed to investing $1.7 billion in new energy capacity investments, one that will use union labor to boot? It’s a valid question, but the answer is pretty obvious: Opposition to Keystone XL has been one of the main goals of the anti-fossil fuel lobby for a decade now, and no promises made today will change that fact.
Yes, TC Energy has been able to build out the vast majority of the overall Keystone XL System and place it into service in the U.S., but the northern extension into Canada facilitating movement of oil sands crude into the U.S. is, for the environmental left, a bridge too far.
Just as President Donald Trump focused on keeping the promises he made during his 2016 campaign, Joe Biden will go about keeping some of his own. Elections have consequences, and, unless something dramatic changes before the day is over, the cancellation of a key piece of America’s first truly all-renewable oil pipeline systems will become one of the consequences of the 2020 presidential election.