Keystone XL pipeline: Why has Biden planned to cancel disputed Canada project
US president-elect Joe Biden is reportedly planning to reverse a number of decisions of the outgoing Trump administration through executive orders, including the Keystone XL pipeline, on his first day in office. The project is a part of a larger pipeline network, also called Keystone, which connects oil sands of Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the US states of Illinois and Texas. Keystone XL pipeline was aimed to cut short the distance between Alberta’s oil sands and the Gulf of Mexico, where most of North America’s refineries are situated.
The privately financed pipeline project has been opposed by environmentalists and Native Americans for years. In 2015, the then US president Barack Obama vetoed a bill approving the construction of the controversial pipeline but his successor, Donald Trump, overturned the decision through an executive order in his first week in the office.
What were the arguments made in favour of the pipeline?
While Canada already sends 550,000 barrels of oil per day to the United States, the planned project would have carried 830,000 barrels of heavy crude every day from Alberta to Nebraska. The increased supply from Canada would have meant a decrease in dependency on the Middle East. Trump had claimed that the project would create 28,000 construction jobs. “It's going to put a lot of workers, a lot of steelworkers back to work," Trump had said while issuing the permit.
What do critics say?
Environmentalists argue that the pipeline would mean a commitment to developing the oil sands of Alberta, causing a setback to the push to move away from fossil fuels. When Obama decided against the approval of the project following the advice from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), he said that the pipeline would neither lead to a decline in petrol prices nor it would create long-term jobs.
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, a prominent voice of progressive caucus, expressed his delight over Biden’s plan to cancel the project, saying the Keystone pipeline “always has been a disaster”. Taking to Twitter, Sanders said that the country should never lose sight of the “most existential threat” facing the planet. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg also welcomed the decision and said that it would be a “great start” for the incoming Biden administration and a crucial first step.
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