In a notable return to Obama-era policies, President-elect Joe Biden is reportedly planning to use executive power to cancel the federal permits needed to construct the Keystone XL pipeline in his first days in office.
The pipeline — a project intended to move oil from the Canadian province of Alberta to the state of Nebraska and estimated to create tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue — was repeatedly fettered over environmental concerns during the Obama administration when Biden was vice president.
President Barack Obama finally axed the advance of the pipeline in 2015, siding with environmentalists.
The move was derided by then-candidate Donald Trump, who in 2017 as president announced final approval for the pipeline, granting the necessary federal permits to TransCanada Energy, the company building the project.
What are the details?
But according to a Canadian Broadcasting Company report, Biden plans to rescind the federal permits as early on as his first day in office. The CBC News report states:
A purported briefing note from the Biden transition team mentioning the plan was widely circulated over the weekend after being shared by the incoming president's team with U.S. stakeholders.
The words "Rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit" appear on a list of executive actions supposedly scheduled for Day 1 of Biden's presidency.
The list shown to stakeholders is a lengthier version of a list already reported in the media based on a memo released publicly over the weekend by Biden's chief of staff Ronald Klain. That publicly reported memo from Klain did not mention Keystone XL, but cautioned that the memo was not a complete list of planned actions.
Despite reports, in a statement to Politico Sunday evening, Canada's ambassador to the U.S., Kirsten Hillman, said the Canadian government would continue to push the project.
"The Government of Canada continues to support the Keystone XL project," she said. "Keystone XL fits within Canada's climate plan. It will also contribute to U.S. energy security and economic competitiveness."
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said on Twitter that he is "deeply concerned" by the reports signaling the cancellation of the pipeline.
"Doing so would kill jobs on both sides of the border, weaken the critically important Canada-U.S. relationship, and undermine U.S. national security by making the United States more dependent on OPEC oil imports in the future," he added.
Construction of the pipeline is well under way in Canada, with the international border crossing already complete, Reuters noted. And in the U.S., work has begun on pump stations in every state along the path.