A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp's planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, North Dakota. (REUTERS)
A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp's planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, North Dakota. (REUTERS)

US-Canada relations on slippery ground over Keystone XL oil pipeline issue

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has said Ottawa will attempt to persuade the Biden administration to allow the oil pipeline to proceed
PUBLISHED ON JAN 20, 2021 12:36 PM IST

Canada and the United States may be headed for a clash over the contentious Keystone XL pipeline in the early days of the Joe Biden administration.

The new administration has already indicated that the project will be cancelled and that announcement could be made soon after Biden assumes charge as US president.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that Ottawa will attempt to persuade Washington, DC to allow the oil pipeline to proceed.

Keystone XL was approved by the Donald Trump administration, after it had originally been denied permission by his predecessor Barack Obama on environmental grounds.

During a media interaction on the eve of Biden’s swearing-in, Trudeau said, “We’ve had a clear and consistent position supporting this project for years. Our government is making sure that Canada’s views are heard and considered by the incoming administration at the highest levels.”

First envisaged in 2008, construction for the project has begun and the proposed 2,700km pipeline is expected to carry nearly 80,000 barrels of oil from the province of Alberta to refineries in Texas via multiple midwestern American states.

Given how critical the project is to Alberta, the premier of the province, Jason Kenney, has already warned of legal action in case the Biden administration carries out its threat of cancelling the project.

Trudeau spoke to Kenney on Tuesday night and a readout issued by the PMO said that “Canada has made the case for the project, including recently to President-elect Biden”, adding that Canada’s ambassador to the US “and others in government have also been speaking with high-level officials in the incoming administration”.

According to a statement cited by CBC News, Canada’s natural resources minister Seamus O’Regan came out strongly in favour of the pipeline. He said, “Canadian oil is produced under strong environmental and climate policy frameworks, and this project will not only strengthen the vital Canada-US energy relationship, but create thousands of good jobs for workers on both sides of the border.”

In the readout from the Canadian PMO, Trudeau said he “looked forward to working with the incoming administration of president-elect Biden to fight climate change, protect jobs and grow the economy”.

Trudeau was the first to congratulate Biden over phone after the results of the US presidential elections became clear. The Canadian PM had raised the Keystone pipeline matter during that conversation.

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