Prairie premiers urge Biden to reconsider axing Keystone XL pipeline
OTTAWA -- Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe are urging U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to meet with Canadians and reconsider his reported decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline quickly after taking office.
On Sunday, CTV News reported that documents from Biden’s presidential transition team show that he intends to cancel the US$8-billion pipeline project as soon as his first day in office.
Moe told CTV’s Power Play on Monday that he hopes the Biden administration will meet with the Canadian government to discuss the project before officially signing off on his plan.
“What we need to do at the highest levels – and with the full weight of the federal government and the prime minister of this nation -- is to make the case for this piece of infrastructure that benefits not only Canadians and not only Americans, but all of North America,” he said.
“It’s our hope that the Biden administration will listen to the merits as to why this pipeline is necessary.”
The Keystone XL pipeline extension is a controversial cross-border project that aims to transport 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb. While the project was approved for constriction in 2017, Biden campaigned on a promise to axe the deal if elected.
If Biden were to go through with his promise to cancel the project, Kenney told reporters on Monday that he believes the province has grounds to take legal action against the U.S. administration.
“We believe we would have very strong arguments for legal recourse for damages incurred,” he said. “This is, I believe, without precedent for an American administration retroactively to seek to cancel a piece of infrastructure … that already exists.”
While Moe stopped short of suggesting legal action, he did mention cancelling this deal would make for a rocky start to Canada’s relationship with the incoming administration.
“The hope is that the relationship that Canada and the U.S. have, and I would hope our prime minister and President-elect Biden have is that they’re actually able to have a conversation around the merits of a project like this,” he said.
“Certainly, that would be concerning for all of us in North America to have our Canada-U.S. relations to start on that type of a footing.”
Meanwhile, Kenney also suggested Biden should consider the relationship between Canada and the U.S. before ultimately blocking the pipeline.
“Here’s the simple choice: either the United States has access to environmentally responsible energy produced in a close democratic ally or it becomes more dependent on foreign oil imports from Venezuela and other OPEC dictatorships in the future,” Kenney said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reportedly brought up the pipeline project during a congratulatory phone call with the president-elect after his election win, but Kenney is urging Trudeau to quickly connect with Biden once again to reinforce Canada’s position in the matter.
“Surely, the relationship between Canada and the United States is worth at least having that discussion,” he said. “I believe as the most important ally and trading partner of the United States, that the United States government owes Canada the respect to at least sit down with us and talk about this vital project in the broader context of our shared challenge of addressing climate change, continental energy security and broader issues.”
Both Alberta and Saskatchewan have reason to be concerned financially. On top of the lost jobs and impact on each province’s oil sector, the Alberta government invested at least $1.5 billion in the project. In Saskatchewan, Moe said ending the deal would cost his province’s energy sector “far north” of a $1 billion per year.
Federal Green Party Leader Annamie Paul told CTV’s Power Play that given Biden’s campaign promise to end the deal, Moe and Kenney should have been ready.
The real issue, she said, is a failure in political leadership.
“We knew for a long time that if President-elect Biden won the presidential election, he was going to be cancelling this project,” she said. “What good leadership -- federally and provincially – should have done was to plan for that.”
“That hasn’t happened and that’s what’s really putting workers and people in Alberta and Saskatchewan at risk right now -- and that is a true failure.”