Joe Biden will cancel the Keystone XL pipeline if he’s elected president of the United States, his campaign said Monday in a potential death blow for the delay-plagued Canada-U.S. oil project. His staff said he would withdraw the permit issued by President Donald Trump.
The emphatic statement from Biden’s campaign ends months of ambiguity, as Biden had not joined other Democratic candidates in pledging to revoke the permit. The policy director for Biden’s campaign said Monday that cancelling Keystone XL was the right decision in 2015, when Biden, then vice-president, attended a White House event where then-president Barack Obama cancelled the permit.
“It’s still the right decision now. In fact, it’s even more important today,” said Stef Feldman in response to a query from CBC News after the U.S. site Politico reported on Biden’s decision.
“Biden strongly opposed the Keystone pipeline in the last administration, stood alongside President Obama and Secretary [of State John] Kerry to reject it in 2015, and will proudly stand in the Roosevelt Room [of the White House] again as president and stop it for good by rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit.”
Project repeatedly stalled
Canada’s oil industry has long viewed that pipeline as a means of alleviating bottlenecks stifling the exports of Alberta’s land-locked bitumen, as Keystone XL would help transmit about one-fifth of all the oil Canada sends the U.S. each day. But the project has been repeatedly stalled over the past decade by a series of challenges.
Environmental groups targeted Keystone XL as a way of slowing down Canadian oilsands emissions, and successfully pressed Obama to reject it. Numerous court challenges also slowed efforts to start construction. Now, with building still not yet underway, there is no way the estimated two-year project can get completed until after the U.S. election in November. What this announcement from Biden’s campaign signals is that the project could stall indefinitely if he wins the White House.
Hell ya! Go @JoeBiden, thanks for standing with the people over big oil. “Biden strongly opposed the Keystone pipeline in the last administration…and will proudly stand in the Roosevelt Room again as President and stop it for good by rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit.” pic.twitter.com/83MS8PUxrh
— Jane Fleming Kleeb (@janekleeb) May 18, 2020
A longtime opponent of the pipeline celebrated Monday’s news. Nebraska activist Jane Kleeb said this could be the final blow for Keystone XL.
“When Biden wins, KXL is finished, dead in the water, stake-in-the-heart dead,” Kleeb, chair of the Nebraska Democratic Pary, said in an email Monday. “Biden just provided the last nail in the KXL pipeline coffin.”
She called it a courageous decision that sided with people against big oil. While Kleeb helped organize opponents to the pipeline, it also has numerous supporters: most landowners on the route had signed contracts allowing it through their property. In addition, officials in U.S. counties along the route have said the construction and other pipeline-related revenues would bolster their tax base.