Work on Keystone XL pipeline suspended as Biden is expected to revoke permit

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The Canadian company behind the Keystone XL oil pipeline said Wednesday it has suspended work on the pipeline in anticipation of incoming President Joe Biden revoking its permit. Mr. Biden’s Day One plans included moving to revoke a presidential permit for the pipeline.

The 1,700-mile pipeline would 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.

“As a result of the expected revocation of the Presidential Permit, advancement of the project will be suspended,” the Calgary, Alberta-based company said in a statement.

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. Construction has already started.

Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, said Canada needs to move on now that Mr. Biden has made a decision.

“Of course we’re disappointed. We worked hard over the past number of months trying to make the case for Keystone XL,” Hillman told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

“He had made a commitment during his campaign and he lived up to that commitment. I think we have to accept that and move forward.”

Keystone XL
This 2017 image shows a depot used to store pipes for the Keystone XL oil pipeline in Gascoyne, North Dakota.

Terray Sylvester / REUTERS


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised Keystone XL as a top priority when he spoke with Mr. 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.

Jason Kenney, premier of the oil-rich province of Alberta, said late Tuesday he urged Trudeau to tell Mr. Biden that “rescinding the Keystone XL border crossing permit would damage the Canada-US bilateral relationship.”

Trudeau and Mr. Biden are politically aligned and there are expectations for a return to normal relations after four years of Mr. Trump, but the pipeline is an early irritant as Mr. Biden has long said he would cancel it.

Critics of Canada’s oil sands say the growing operations increase greenhouse gas emissions and threaten Alberta’s rivers and forests. But Marty Durbin, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute, said Mr. Biden’s decision is not grounded in science and will put thousands of Americans out of work,

“The pipeline — the most studied infrastructure project in American history — is already under construction and has cleared countless legal and environmental hurdles,” Durbin said in a statement. “Halting construction will also impede the safe and efficient transport of oil, and unfairly single out production from one of our closest and most important allies.”



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