In the second quarter of 2008, construction started on a crude oil pipeline that was planned to stretch from oil-rich Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. Commissioned in 2010, the Keystone XL pipeline, despite facing many construction issues and controversy during the final years of the Obama administration, gradually resumed operations under President Trump. However, ending the construction of the pipeline one of the first acts of the Biden administration.
On Jan. 2o, President Biden signed an executive order revoking the necessary permit for the XL pipeline to “construct, connect, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities at the international border of the United States and Canada.” The executive order, praised by environmentalists and the Native American tribes that would have been negatively affected by the pipeline, was part of a host of executive orders meant to “empower our workers and communities; promote and protect our public health and the environment; and conserve our national treasures, places that secure our national memory,” as the executive order states. The Keystone pipeline was claimed to be against U.S. national interests and it’s leadership in the fight against climate change. A State Department review in 2015, released by the then-Secretary of State John Kerry, states that in addition to causing further climate damage and increasing U.S.’s dependence on fossil fuels, the pipeline would also lead to—at best—minimal improvements to America’s energy security, gas prices, and the economy.
The 2015 review, however, also notes that the Keystone XL pipeline is an important asset to Canada, and by denying the necessary permits for it, relations between the two allies may be harmed. So far, this prediction has held up, as just two days after the executive order denying the Keystone XL pipeline its necessary permit, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “disappointed” after a phone call with Biden. While Trudeau agreed with Biden on combating climate change, he expressed concern about the fates of Canadian energy workers, and as economic security. While Biden believes stopping the Keystone XL pipeline is better for America’s-and humanity’s- interest, Canada believes that-while stopping climate change is a noble goal-shutting down the pipeline is against the interests of U.S.-Canada relations.
How this develops moving onward will be the bedrock of U.S.-Canadian relations and American energy policy during the Biden presidency. For now, despite Canada’s protests, the ban on any further construction remains.