The Mercury News

Keystone XL halted as Biden decides to revoke its permit


TORONTO >> Constructi­on on the long disputed Keystone XL oil pipeline halted Wednesday as incoming U.S. President Joe Biden decided to revoke its permit.

Biden’s Day One plans included moving to revoke a presidenti­al permit for the pipeline. The premier of the oil-rich Canadian province of Alberta called it an “insult” and said the federal Canadian government should impose trade sanctions if it is not reversed.

The 1,700-mile pipeline was planned to 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.

“Advancemen­t of the project will be suspended,” the Calgary, Alberta-based company said in a statement.

Keystone XL President Richard Prior said over 1,000 jobs, the majority unionized, will be eliminated in the coming weeks.

“We will begin a safe and orderly shut-down of constructi­on,” he said.

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.

“We are disappoint­ed but acknowledg­e the President’s decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden will call Trudeau on Friday, the first call with a foreign leader after Biden took the oath of office. Psaki said the pipeline will be discussed.

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.

Canada is America’s number one source of foreign oil.

Trudeau and Biden are politicall­y aligned and there are expectatio­ns for a return to normal relations after four years of Trump.

Trudeau took a conciliato­ry tone.

“Despite President Biden’s decision on the project, we would like to welcome other executive orders made today, including the decisions to rejoin the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organizati­on, to place a temporary moratorium on all oil and natural gas leasing activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and to reverse the travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries,” Trudeau said.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Biden’s decision is a gut punch for his province, which has a stake in the project.

“It is a insult directed at the United States most important ally and trading partner on day one of a new administra­tion,” Kenney said. “The leader of our closest ally retroactiv­ely vetoed approval for a pipeline that exists and which is coowned by Canadian government, directly attacking by far the largest part of the Canada U.S. trade relationsh­ip, which is our energy industry and exports.”

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