Word is out today that Joe Biden plans to cancel the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline on Day One in office. Leaving aside potential legal difficulties (I can imagine that, depending on the exact status of the permit, Trans-Canada may have a strong case for damages before the U.S. Federal Court of Claims), this is pure symbolism, as it will not reduce the amount of oil consumed in the U.S. by a single barrel. We’ll likely still get nearly as much Canadian oil without the pipeline, though it will have to be shipped by more expensive and more risky rail transport. What—do environmentalists think Saudi oil is low-carbon or something?
And I guess all that criticism of how Trump is heedless about the interests of our allies was bunk. Canada is not just our leading foreign oil supplier; I know that the Obama Administration’s treatment of Keystone ten years ago was a major irritant to the Canadian government, which, being Canadian, was too polite to complain about publicly. So now we’re going to pick a diplomatic fight with our friendliest neighbor—and one whose liberal government wants the pipeline.
Keystone XL was one of the few issues on which Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed. The Liberal government had planned to continue to advocate for the pipeline.
During a congratulatory call with Biden on Nov. 9, Trudeau told the incoming president he looked forward to joining forces to fight climate change while co-operating on energy projects like the Keystone XL.
I don’t want want to hear another word about how Trump antagonized our European allies.
I’m hoping some reporter will ask Biden if he still favors “clean coal,” but I won’t hold my breath.