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Biden and Trudeau Set to Clash over Keystone XL Pipeline

Joe Biden

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Canada is getting ready for its first confrontation with the man who will become the 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden, on Wednesday, amid clear indications that one of the first actions of the new administration will be to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, a project considered vital for the Canadian oil industry.

Official documents from Biden’s transition team released in the last few hours indicate that one of the priorities of his presidency will be to “reverse Trump’s environmental actions with executive orders (including rescinding the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline).”

On Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed during a press conference in Ottawa that the courtesy call he will make to Biden to congratulate him on his inauguration wouldn’t be as friendly as originally planned.

“I look forward to speaking with President Biden in the coming days to address this and many other issues that we will work on together,” Trudeau said.

The Canadian Prime Minister added that he was aware that Biden committed to canceling the pipeline during his presidential campaign, but hopes to convince the Democratic leader to change his mind because of the job and energy security benefits provided by the Keystone XL.

Trudeau will also make the case that under his leadership, Canada has become one of the world leaders in the fight against the climate crisis.

With all these elements, Canadian authorities have already begun to put pressure on top officials in the next Democratic government, with whom Trudeau’s Liberal Party is more in tune than with the outgoing Donald Trump Administration.

The Keystone XL project, which represents an $8 billion investment and was initiated by the Canadian company TransCanada, a company that has changed its name to TC Energy, has been marked by controversy since its inception.

In 2015, the Administration of President Barack Obama, when Biden was Vice-President, banned the construction of the pipeline because of its environmental impact. But with Trump’s arrival at the White House in 2017, the project was approved to the satisfaction of Canadian authorities.

Keystone XL is part of a 4,700-kilometer pipeline system that connects the oil fields of the Canadian province of Alberta, which contain some of the world’s largest crude oil reserves, to the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes in the United States.

The 1,947-kilometer project would cross the states of Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, where it would connect to an existing pipeline section to transport crude to refineries located on the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast.

Environmental groups in both Canada and the United States have opposed the construction of the pipeline, which would have the capacity to transport 830,000 barrels of oil per day.

These groups have denounced that Keystone XL would allow the expansion of Alberta’s oil sands deposits, which they describe as “one of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuels” and would “dramatically increase the capacity to process 168 billion barrels of crude oil held in Canada’s boreal forests.”

To counter opposition from environmental groups, TC Energy pledged Monday that the Keystone XL pipeline will be the first in the world to be fully powered by renewable energy by 2030 and that by 2023 it will have zero net emissions from its operations.

“In addition, Keystone XL will allow responsibly produced Canadian oil to be safely transported to the United States,” the company added in a statement, recognizing “climate change is a serious issue and we have an important role to play in managing greenhouse gas emissions.”

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