Biden Stops Plans for Keystone XL Pipeline


Canada takes another approach to Keystone XL (Photo courtesy of ClimateCentral).

The Keystone XL oil pipeline project has been a subject of controversy for ten years. The pipeline was to transport 830,000 barrels of oil from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska, United States. Initially, President Barack Obama rejected the plan, but soon after getting elected, President Donald Trump decided to approve the operations, beginning in the year 2023. On January 21, 2021, President Joe Biden revoked America’s approval of the project.

A significant aspect of President Biden’s campaign was the environment. He made promises to the country that he had big plans to reduce the impact of climate change. This ties into why he decided to cancel the project. The Keystone pipeline spiked concern from many climate change activists due to the high percentage of increase in emissions that the Keystone would give off if put in place. In an interview with CNBC, Biden stated, “It is tar sands that we don’t need [and] that in fact is a very, very high pollutant.” Later, in his inaugural address, Biden announced, “A cry for survival comes from the planet itself, A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear now.”

Another primary concern while deciding whether or not the project was to continue how the pipeline would affect ethnic groups that lived in regions where the pipeline was to be built. Not too long after the Project was proposed, Indigenous tribes from the regions started to file lawsuits. The United States is obliged to protect and preserve native land and resources. With this pipeline, this obligation was not being fulfilled. The pipeline directly affected native treaty lands. Due to circumstances with  COVID-19, the arrival of many workers would put native lives at imminent risk. 

Many reprimanded Biden for his verdict, including Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. On January 23, Prime Minister Trudeau expressed his disappointment on a phone call with the president. The pipeline would have caused great economic gain for Canada, which is part of the reason Trudeau was displeased. Many Americans also expressed concern about the United States economy if the keystone project was rejected. The fear was that the rejection of this project would cause 10,000 people to lose their jobs. Biden went on to ignore these fears based on two things. The first was that not many people were even employed under the circumstances that many states had not yet approved the construction permit. The second being that the hypothetical jobs would have been temporary and not worth the permanent environmental damage.

Despite all the controversy, the decision has been made. The Keystone XL pipeline project will not be continued as of January 21, 2021.