Russia-Ukraine war: Canadian premier wants to revive Trump-backed Keystone-XL pipeline to replace Russian oil
Russia-Ukraine war, soaring gas prices prompt calls to revive Trump-backed Keystone XL pipeline nixed by Biden on first day in office
The premier of Alberta, Canada, is calling for construction to resume on the Keystone XL pipeline backed by former President Donald Trump in order to replace Russian oil imports in North America.
"If the United States is serious about this, they could come back and help us build Keystone XL," Premier Jason Kenney said at a press conference on Monday. "If President Biden had not vetoed that project, it would be done later this year – 840,000 barrels of democratic energy that could have displaced the 600,000 plus barrels of Russian conflict oil that’s filled with the blood of Ukrainians."
The Obama administration in 2015 pulled support for the Keystone XL pipeline due to climate and public health concerns, but Trump revived the project in 2017 and construction started in 2020. On his first day in office, President Biden issued an executive order revoking the cross-border permit, and TC Energy abandoned the $9 billion project in June 2021.
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Though the Keystone XL pipeline had secured most of its funding, a Reuters Fact Check said less than 10% of the pipeline had been built by Jan. 21, 2021, when Biden pulled the plug on its permit. Indigenous groups and activists praised the cancelation of the project, which meant thousands of workers in Canada and the U.S. hired to build the pipeline lost their jobs.
The Biden administration has begun courting Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia for their oil supplies as the Russian forces continue to invade Ukraine.
Yet, Kenney said Saudi Arabia is using oil money to drop barrel bombs on Yemeni civilians, the Iranian regime has dropped bombs on civilians in Syria through the Assad regime and Venezuela is "a regime that kills its political enemies and is one of the worst human rights violators on the face of the Earth." Gas prices topped $4 in the U.S. this week.
Kenney, who will be traveling to Houston, Texas, for the CERAWeek energy conference to advocate for a Russian oil embargo, summarized current U.S. energy policy as "to stop exports from America’s closest friend and ally," meaning Canada, and to "increase exports from one of the worst regimes in the world."
"None of this makes sense, so I will be speaking truth to power in the bluntest terms possible," Kenney said. "If the U.S. administration wanted instead of going cap in hand to the Venezuela, Saudi and Iranian dictatorships to replace Russian conflict oil, we could turn this around, I believe in less than a year."
He estimated the Keystone XL pipeline could be completed by the first quarter of 2023.
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According to the Alberta government’s website, the Keystone XL pipeline would have covered more than 1,200 miles from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska. It would have had the capacity to carry 830,000 barrels per day of crude from western Canadian oil fields to Gulf Coast refineries in the U.S.
In 2021, the U.S. imported an average of 209,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Russia, according to the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers trade association. Though that’s only roughly 3% of U.S. crude oil imports, Russian imports are crucial to refineries on the West and Gulf coasts.
Asked how high must gas prices get for Biden to consider putting aside his ambitious climate goals to increase domestic oil production, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki asserted on Monday that the U.S. must reduce dependence on "fossil fuels and foreign oil" to avoid ceding to "the whims of a foreign dictator."
"The U.S. produced more oil this past year than in President Trump’s first year. Next year, according to the Department of Energy, we will produce more oil than every — than ever before," Psaki said Monday, arguing that there currently are 9,000 unused approved permits to drill on shore.
"But if we’re looking to the future," Psaki continued. "What we can do to prevent this from being a challenge in future crises -- the best thing we can do is reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil, because that will help us have a reliable source of energy so that we’re not worried about gas prices going up because of the whims of a foreign dictator.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. crude oil production reached almost 11.8 million barrels per day in November and topped 12 million barrels per day by February.
In reference to Iran, Psaki pointed out that Trump abandoned the Iran Nuclear Deal in 2018.
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"I don’t think anybody is advocating for Iran to continue acquiring a nuclear weapon, perhaps except for the former president who pulled us out of the deal," she said.
Addressing soaring gas prices, Kenney also announced Monday that Alberta would stop the collection of the provincial fuel tax. He said it was to offer relief from Canadian Minister Justice Trudeau and the Ottawa-based federal government’s carbon tax rate on gasoline set to increase again on April 1.
"Between the uncertainty caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, plus skyrocketing inflation spurred on by Justin Trudeau’s reckless deficit spending – and on top of all that, his plan for a carbon tax hike on April 1st is costing families more and more to get their kids to school and to drive," he said.