US President-elect Joe Biden is planning to cancel the permit for the $9 billion Keystone XL pipeline project as one of his first acts in office.
Outgoing President Donald Trump had made building the pipeline – which would move oil from the Canadian province of Alberta to Nebraska – a central promise of his presidential campaign. But Biden, who will be inaugurated on Wednesday, was vice-president in the Obama administration when it rejected the project because it was seen as contrary to their promises on climate change.
According to sources, the words “Rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit” appear on a list of executive actions scheduled for the first day of Biden’s presidency. Biden had vowed to scrap the oil pipeline’s presidential permit if he became president.
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Canada’s ambassador to the United States said she would continue to promote a project that she said fitted with both countries’ environmental plans.
“There is no better partner for the US on climate action than Canada as we work together for green transition,” Ambassador Kirsten Hillman said.
The project had been slowed by legal issues in the United States. It also faced opposition from environmentalists seeking to check the expansion of Canada’s oil sands by opposing new pipelines to move its crude to refineries.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said that cancellation would threaten jobs, weaken US-Canada relations and undermine American national security by making the United States more dependent on OPEC oil imports.
TC Energy Corp, which operates the pipeline, said it would achieve net zero emissions by 2023 when it enters service. The company also pledged to use only renewable energy sources by 2030 in a bid to win Biden’s support.
Construction is well underway in Canada, with the international border crossing complete. In the United States, TC has started construction on pump stations in each of the states the line will pass through, but legal setbacks cost it much of the 2020 construction season.
Former President Barack Obama axed the project in 2015, saying Canada would reap most of the economic benefits, while the project would add to greenhouse gas emissions.
But Trump issued a presidential permit in 2017 that allowed the line to move forward, and several environmental groups sued the US government.