Is Biden right to block Keystone XL pipeline?
- Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was inaugurated as the 46th president on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.
- On Biden’s first day in office, he rejoined the Paris Accords as well as the WHO, ordered a federal mask mandate, ended the Trump-era travel ban, as well as 13 other orders.
- Biden ended the 12 year battle over the Keystone XL pipeline after he decided to revoke the permit for construction his first day in office. In March 2017, President Trump announced approval of the presidential permit for the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline.
- The Keystone XL pipeline extension was initiated by TC Energy in 2008 to transfer fossil fuels from Canada to the United States. The controversy over the development ranges between the corrosiveness of tar sands, the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, and the creation of more jobs to stimulate the economy.
- Cancellation of the Keystone Xl Pipeline has resulted in disappointment from Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, but from unions who helped get Biden elected, and the Ute Indian Tribe who said in a statement to the Biden administration that their tribe and “other energy producing tribes rely on energy development to fund our governments and provide services to our members.”
President Biden has made it clear that addressing climate change is a priority; canceling the Keystone XL pipeline's permit is consistent with his administration's goals, and he is right to do so. The oil that the Keystone XL pipeline was intended to carry to the Gulf refineries comes from tar sands in Alberta and is thicker, heavier, and creates more pollution to extract compared to light sweet crude. It is unnecessary to produce this oil and wrong due to the amount of pollution its extraction makes.
The environment isn't the only beneficiary of President Biden's decision; the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has been fighting the pipeline's construction for years because it runs through their tribal lands. Other landowners have also fought against the pipeline's construction, resulting in eminent domain cases being launched against them by TransCanada. By canceling the permit for the pipelines construction, President Biden is helping these people to keep their lands.
The Keystone XL pipeline would be a danger to all of the lands it would pass through and could create an environmental catastrophe if it were to rupture, as other pipelines have, spilling hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into otherwise healthy wilderness. Finally, proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline often tout the supposed job creation that the project was alleged to bring. The few jobs that would have actually been created by the pipeline would have only been temporary, during the construction phase. The completed pipeline wouldn't have led to any permanent positions but would have done permanent danger to the environment.
While the exact numbers are currently unclear, the executive order undeniably cost thousands of Americans their jobs, mostly those in the middle class. This appears to be of no concern to politicians supporting Biden's decision. Nominated Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg insulted those affected, implying that they would be forced to be successful 'in good-paying union jobs, even if they might be different ones.'
The US has already spent over $3 billion investing in the pipeline project. Canceling it now 'represents a sunk cost at the whim of a new President.' This is troubling considering Biden's claimed goal of bringing 'unity' to the nation, along with immediate rash decision-making.
It cannot be overstated the importance of crude oil independence considering past alternatives, such as dependence on the Middle East oil sources. As of 2020, the US became 'the world's largest oil producer' while gaining Canada as its main importer. Biden's recent decision has been referred to as an 'insult to Canada,' given the economic benefit that would have been provided to the surrounding nation. Also notable is that the pipeline project provided a safer way to transport oil than other methods such as 'by truck or by train.'
While environmentalists have claimed detrimental effects of the pipeline on surrounding ecosystems, this is hardly an argument when outweighing the benefits that the pipeline brings about. It has bolstered American and Canadian economies, security, jobs, and the environmental impact is considered to have significantly improved since the pipeline's initial proposition.