Alberta Premier, Jason Kenney, said US President Joe Biden’s decision to revoke the permit for Calgary-based Keystone XL pipeline is a direct attack on the trade relationship between the two countries.
“Keystone XL represents the opportunity to create over 40,000 jobs in the United States to add over $3 billion to the gross domestic product, just in terms of its construction. Here is a very 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 in a conference.
Kenney called on PM Trudeau to sit down with the new US administration. Before Kenney’s comments, Trudeau and Canadian Ambassador to the United States, Kirsten Hillman, indicated that while disappointed with the decision, they will live with it.
In 2015, the Obama administration blocked the development of the pipeline, first introduced in 2005. However, President Trump overturned that order and allowed it to go ahead. The project of the pipeline was to carry oil nearly 1,900 kilometers from the Canadian province of Alberta down to Nebraska, and join an existing pipeline.
Photo: Courtesy of CBC News
Revoking the permit to build the pipeline is among some of the measures the Biden administration is undertaking as a means to mitigate climate change, including re-entering the Paris Agreement. In 2017, Trump announced that the US would cease all participation in the Paris Agreement.
Over the years, the pipeline has also led to many legal battles between First Nations and the federal governments. On November 17, 2020 The Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the Fort Belknap Indian Community, represented by the Native American Rights Fund and co-council, filed a federal lawsuit against the United States Department of Interior and the Bureau of Land Management, over their issuing of the KXL permit.
In the lawsuit, the complaint said that the tribe has not been consulted as required by law and Department of Interior (DOI) policy over the pipelines proposed paths. The government analysis does not address how an influx of out-of-state construction workers will affect the health, welfare, and safety of Indigenous members and in particular Native women and children. The 2019 supplemental environmental impact statement has numerous issues and shortcomings. Its maps do not give enough detail to show impacts on First Nations lands.
In the permit application, TransCanada agreed to abide by Indigenous laws and regulations which they failed to do. Early in 2020, during the COVID-19 virus outbreak, TransCanada announced that it was proceeding with KXL pipeline construction and ignored the posed threat of the COVID-19 virus spreading amongst the workers.
The Keystone XL pipeline has seen many protests over the years. In 2019, The U.S. Law enforcement discussed to stop activists “by any means” . They even labeled demonstrators as potential “domestic terrorism” threats. North Dakota police officials told law enforcement prepping for Keystone that one of their biggest mistakes was their failure to keep activists far away and shut down access to nearby lands. This was in discussion referring to the 383,000 gallons leak of tar sands into a swath of North Dakota wetlands.
The decision to revoke the pipeline permit may put an end to unfair treatment of Indigenous activists and a positive decision towards reducing carbon emissions. However, the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada said in a news release that they are disappointed that Biden is “putting politics before reason”. According to the association, the pipeline generated as many as 60,000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada and the United States.
Wiki Production Code: A0508