Trudeau encouraged to reach out to Democratic Party in U.S. to talk Keystone XL pipeline

‘We believe that Justin Trudeau should be doing everything he can to encourage his friends in the Democratic Party’

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer is encouraging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to contact the Democratic Party to discuss the Keystone XL pipeline and recent comments made by Joe Biden.

“We believe that Justin Trudeau should be doing everything he can to encourage his friends in the Democratic Party to look at the economic benefits for both countries and the science behind the environmental analysis that have led to this project’s approval,” Scheer said.

Biden, the democratic frontrunner to challenge Donald Trump for the presidency in November says if elected, he will tear up any approvals for the Keystone XL pipeline.

“Stopping Keystone was the right decision then and it’s still the right decision now. In fact, it’s even more important today,” said Biden’s policy director Stef Feldman in a written statement, first reported by Politico.

If built, the Keystone XL would carry bitumen from Alberta, through Montana and South Dakota to Steele City, Nebraska.

It was rejected by former president Barack Obama but revived by Trump.

During Trudeau’s COVID-19 briefing in Ottawa, the prime minister didn’t say whether he’d be making any calls to the Biden camp, but reiterated his support for the pipeline.

“We will continue to work with whatever government gets elected in the United States to impress upon them how important Canada is as a secure and reliable supply of energy that they require, even as we move forward to a different future,” Trudeau said.

A federal judge in Montana halted construction on Keystone XL until requirements for the Endangered Species Act were met.

The $8-billion US expansion, long a central element of efforts in Canada to expand export markets for Canadian fossil fuel, has been beset by delays, protests and injunctions almost since its inception. It became a major flashpoint in 2011 when celebrity-studded protests outside the White House helped crystallize environmental opposition to the energy sector.

Trump has repeatedly sought to kick-start the project, signing an executive order in the earliest days of his presidency that was thwarted by a federal judge in Montana who concluded the State Department had not adequately assessed the potential environmental impact of the project.

The president signed a fresh permit in March that not only cleared the way for construction, but also appeared designed to prevent further legal problems with State Department permits. But again, a Montana court halted the project on the grounds that the impact on endangered species in the state hadn’t been properly assessed.

In the meantime, Keystone XL has come to define the widening fissure between an energy industry that’s straining to redefine its mission in the 21st century and growing public opposition to North America’s dependency on fossil fuels – a tension that has created deep-seated political challenges in Canada, where the oilpatch is central to the country’s economic fortunes.

“Rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline is the touchstone of any meaningful plan to address the climate crisis,” said Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, the North American director of 350 Action, the political wing of climate-justice group

“Tribal nations, farmers and ranchers, and many other communities who have resisted Keystone XL for more than a decade know this pipeline would derail all plans for climate survival and adaptation.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has committed $1.5 billion to the expansion, along with a $6-billion loan guarantee, as his United Conservative government extends outreach efforts in the U.S. in hopes of breathing new life into a sector hit hard in recent months by record-low oil prices and the economic impact of COVID-19.

“We remain confident Keystone XL remains a critical part of North America’s post-pandemic economic recovery,” Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage said in a statement.

Without it, the U.S. would remain dependent on heavy crude from places like Venezuela and subject to the sort of market instability triggered in March by a dispute between Russia and Saudi Arabia, she added.

“Rather than speculating about the outcome of the U.S. election, we will spend our time continuing to meet with our U.S. allies and speak to Alberta’s role in supporting North American energy independence and security.”

During a roundtable discussion last week hosted by the Canadian American Business Council, Kenney said his government would be investing “significantly more” in expanding Alberta’s footprint in the U.S. to more effectively advance the province’s energy interests.

With files from the Canadian Press

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