Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

Canada won’t stop trying to convince U.S. president-elect Joe Biden of the merits of the Keystone XL pipeline expansion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insisted Tuesday.

But even Trudeau’s full-throated defence of the controversial cross-border project, which Biden appears poised to cancel on Wednesday, betrayed a note of resignation.

Asked pointedly what he planned to do to rescue the US$8-billion project, the prime minister lingered instead on what he’d done already, including his November phone call with the president-elect.

He said it would be Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s envoy in Washington, pressing Ottawa’s case with what he described as the “highest levels” of the Biden team.

And he acknowledged the elephant in the room: that Biden’s campaign team promised back in May that it would do precisely what transition documents suggest will happen Wednesday.

“We understand, of course, that it is a commitment that … the candidate Joe Biden made to cancel this pipeline,” Trudeau said.

“At the same time, we continue to demonstrate the leadership that Canada has shown on fighting climate change and on ensuring energy security as a priority for North America.”

Those documents, reviewed by The Canadian Press, suggest an executive order rescinding the presidential permit issued by Donald Trump is among the items on Biden’s Day 1 to-do list.

Environmental groups briefed on the incoming administration’s plan also say they have been told it would come on Biden’s first day in the White House.

Advocates for the project, however, are clinging to hope that the ensuing outcry — the Alberta government is already threatening legal action — will prompt the Biden team to give them a chance to change the president-elect’s mind.

The politically fraught project, originally proposed in 2008, aims to deliver more than 800,000 additional barrels a day of diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

It has long been a linchpin in Canada’s strategy for boosting fossil-fuel exports by delivering Alberta’s landlocked underground energy resources to tidewater.

It has also become a lightning rod in both countries for the perennial debate over climate change, economic growth and society’s long-standing dependence on fossil fuels.

As a result, it never found favour among the Democrats in Barack Obama’s White House, which included Biden as vice-president. That administration slow-walked the approval process for the better part of eight years, much to the frustration of then-prime minister Stephen Harper, until outright rejecting it in 2015.

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has for months framed Keystone XL as a vastly different, more environmentally friendly project than the original.

In a late bid to win favour with Biden, pipeline owner TC Energy Corp. confirmed Sunday an ambitious plan to spend US$1.7 billion on a solar, wind and battery-powered operating system for the pipeline to ensure it is zero-emission by 2030.

Canada’s approach to climate change more broadly has also evolved since then, Trudeau said.

“Canada has, in the intervening few years, become a global leader in the fight against climate change and moving forward in transforming our economy in important ways towards reducing emissions,” Trudeau said.

“I trust that we will be heard, that our arguments will be considered.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021.

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

Pipeline

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Jasper after he was reunited with his owners Mary and Brent Hummel. Photo: Steve Smith
New children’s book features lost Castlegar dog who swam the Columbia multiple times

Brent and Mary Hummel and Jasper tell their dramatic story

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read