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The Keystone XL pipeline and why Joe Biden’s executive order has riled up Canada and fears of job loss

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order to revoke a key permit for the Keystone XL pipeline project, thereby paving a path towards job losses in the construction sector and contraction of the US petroleum industry.

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order to revoke a key permit for the Keystone XL pipeline project, thereby paving a path towards job losses in the construction sector and contraction of the US petroleum industry. The 2735-km pipeline was to carry 8 lac barrels of oil to Texas Gulf Coast in the United States from Alberta in Western Canada via Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas.

“The permit is hereby revoked. Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives,” Biden announced in his executive order. The halting of the project can lead to over 11000 job losses and straining of bilateral relations between Canada and the United States.

The pipeline was first proposed in 2008 but received opposition from the Obama administration, in light of controlling fossil fuel emissions. Former US President Donald Trump became a strong advocate of the project and had even revived it. By revoking key permit for the project, Joe Biden has ensured over 8,000 union job losses. The Keystone pipeline would have generated $1.6 billion in gross wages if it were not halted.

Environmentalists have welcomed the move, citing an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and an impending threat to the rivers and forests of Alberta. “Building new infrastructure like the Keystone XL pipeline, which would result in millions of tons of new carbon emissions, just adds fuel to a fire that’s already burning down our house,”  Matt Casale, U.S. PIRG Environment Campaigns Director, said on Monday.

Justin Trudeau issues statement after Keystone project axed

In a statement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated, “…While we welcome the President’s commitment to fight climate change, we are disappointed but acknowledge the President’s decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL.” He reiterated that Canada is the largest supplier of energy to the United States, thereby contributing to its economic competitiveness, employment and energy security.

With a conciliatory tone, he added, “Workers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and across Canada will always have our support.” Justin Trudeau welcomed the executive orders of President Joe Biden to rejoin the Paris Agreement, World Health Organisation and lifting the so-called ‘Muslim ban’. “I look forward to working with President Biden to reduce pollution, combat climate change, fight COVID-19, create middle-class jobs, and build back better by supporting a sustainable economic recovery for everyone,” he concluded.

Alberta Premier demands sanctions against the US if executive order not reversed

While Trudeau has been accommodating after Biden axed the Keystone XL pipeline project, the premier of Canada’s Alberta province, Jason Kenney was miffed. The executive order by Joe Biden prompted Jason Kenney to urge Canada’s federal authorities to impose trade sanctions on the US if the decision is not reversed.

Expressing his deep concerns over the action of the Biden administration, Kenny stated, “Doing so would kill jobs on both sides of the border, weaken the critically important Canada-U.S. relationship, and undermine U.S. national security by making the United States more dependent on OPEC oil imports in the future.”

“The Keystone XL pipeline also represents tens of thousands of good-paying jobs that the American economy needs right now. That is why major American labour unions who supported President-elect Biden’s campaign strongly back the project, as do First Nations who have signed partnership agreements, and all state governments along the pipeline route,” he emphasised. Kenny further said that the US imported about 9.14 million petroleum barrels per day in 2019, out of which 3.7 million came from Canada.

“Then it is clear that the government of Canada must impose meaningful trade and economic sanctions in response to defend our country’s vital economic interests,” he told the media. “Not doing so would create a dangerous precedent.”

Social media outrage following the decision by Joe Biden

Canadian Journalist Keean Bexte shared, “I just left Oyen Alberta, a small town along the Keystone Pipeline route. The town is devastated and will never financially recover from Joe Biden stabbing them in the back.”

Twitter user from Canada (@crashandsmash66) tweeted, “Keystone pipeline permit was revoked almost immediately. 1000’s of Albertans looking at layoffs. Can’t wait to see a bunch of strongly worded letters go out from pretend (pretentious) leaders as they don’t lose a penny of their income and claim they are fighting for us.”

One Taylor Garrett commented, “First day in office and you done took 28,000 jobs from the American people! Shutting down the keystone pipeline #ImpeachBidenNow.”

A Twitter user, Justen, pointed out sarcastically whether US President Joe Biden was planning to revive the economy, amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, by ensuring lob losses. “Ah yes helping the economic crisis by canceling the keystone pipeline and stopping oil and gas permits. Yes those job losses will surely help the economy recover,” he tweeted.

Another user mocked the Biden administration for its high-handedness and wrote, “8,000 jobs were lost yesterday by terminating the keystone pipeline. Great direction we are going to.”

On Friday, US President Joe Biden will make his first call with Justin Trudeau on Friday and discuss the issue of keystone pipeline. The Canadian Prime Minister had earlier taken up the issue with Biden in November last year.

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