National Policy
• Published
June 21, 2021

Why Keystone XL Needs to be Constructed

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Joe Biden built his 2020 presidential campaign around his promises to slow the effects of climate change. In his opinion, we would achieve this by rejoining the Paris Accords, cutting back on fossil fuel use and pollution, and revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline system. He would combat climate change not through public opinion or legislative support, of which neither were in his favor, but by executive action. The most problematic and consequential of these actions is the one to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline. 

The Keystone Pipeline System is a four-phase project that transports Crude Oil and tar sands from Alberta, Canada, throughout the Central United States. The final phase and the pipeline in question, Keystone XL, was set to be the safest and largest of the system. The cancellation of this project and the encroachment on others begs the question. If not through pipelines, how is this oil getting to its destination? The answer is by train, by truck, and by barge. Transport via these methods is worse for the environment, costlier, more dangerous, and less efficient than by pipeline. Canceling Keystone XL is not a solution for those who care about safety when transporting oil. It is a solution for those who want transport to cost more, spill more, and kill more.

Pipelines such as the Keystone XL are the safest way to transport oil. Not only this, but TC Energy pledged to power the entire project with renewable energy by 2023 and that by 2030, TC Energy would have built and invested in enough renewable energy projects to offset the carbon footprint of the pipeline. It is hard to apply the argument of halting climate change while supporting the cancellation of Keystone XL as its construction benefits the climate far more. It seems as though the President’s decision goes against his slogan, “follow the science”.

The economy and job market are the next to be hurt by this decision. Biden’s order led to the instant termination of 1,000 TC Energy jobs with thousands more likely to follow. Even though these jobs were temporary, this destroys thousands of Americans’ and Canadians’ financial security. Suddenly, those who had employment covered for the next year or two are now in a difficult situation. Revocation of Keystone XL’s permit revokes $8 billion in overall project costs, tens of billions of dollars in tax revenue from American and Canadian communities, and TC Energy’s hefty $1.7 billion in green energy investments. 

The combined output of these green energy investments, along with the increased production of the Keystone system, would have strengthened America’s energy security. Canceling Keystone does not magically create renewable energy. If not sourced from Keystone XL and their investments, something else will have to fill that void. If not Canada, the oil will come from OPEC. As they are an organization of countries hostile to American ways of life, we can’t be any more dependent on them for our energy than we already are. To circle back to green energy, Canada is more conscious of the environment than any of the countries that belong to OPEC. Anyone concerned about the environmental impacts of building Keystone XL should know that Canada should work with the United States for fossil fuels rather than OPEC. Energy dependence is a strategic tool that hostile countries can use to evade sanctions and war. After the Crimean Crisis in 2014, the European Union found itself in a bind. The E.U. eventually sanctioned Russia for their aggressiveness and wrongdoing, or enjoy much-needed energy exports. The United States could easily see this on a larger scale soon, as Iran nears nuclear technology and Venezuela grapples with a totalitarian Socialist regime. Canada is one of America’s closest allies in ideology, proximity, and military. Why wouldn’t we want to strengthen our ties and partnerships, especially when it comes to energy? 

Strategy and critical thinking were two things missing when Biden eliminated Keystone XL. There are legitimate concerns when it comes to the pipeline. For one, the pipeline repeatedly crosses into tribal territories and infringes on old treaties. But is cancelation the logical solution to this? No. It would be understandable if Biden were to sign an order rerouting the pipeline rather than cancel the permit entirely. No person or group deserves to have their right to property infringed. These treaties should be honored. But they can be so along with the pipeline. Another concern is the integrity of the pipeline and its materials. Throughout the repeated stalling of the project, the materials for Keystone XL have deteriorated. One concern as a result of the deterioration of the pipeline was the prevention of possible spillages. However, this is something Biden could have done without cancelling the entire project. Biden could have kept the pipeline on track while staying true to his environmentalist and progressive agenda. Proper solutions, future-proofing, and analysis are missing from this campaign promise.

The decision made by the Biden campaign to revoke Keystone XL’s permit is a horrible solution to a nuanced problem. It attacks American energy independence and our alliance with Canada. It prematurely ends thousands of union jobs in the middle of a pandemic, at a time of unprecedented business closures and unemployment. It revokes billions of dollars from American and Canadian communities. It leads to more environmental harm than if the pipeline had been built. Even Justin Trudeau’s environmentally conscious, hyper-liberal government is "disappointed" at Biden’s decision. This is very indicative of the consequences of the Biden administration’s decision. Canceling Keystone hurts jobs, it hurts our energy independence, it hurts our environment. It hurts America. 

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