Alberta Premier Jason Kenney pulled no punches in his criticism of the U.S government’s decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline.
U.S. President Joe Biden, on his first day in office Wednesday signed a number of executive orders, including one to cancel the Keystone XL permit.
“We are deeply disturbed that one of President Biden’s first actions in office has been to rescind the president permit for the Keystone XL pipeline,” Kenney said in a press conference Wednesday.
“This is a gut punch for the Canadian and Alberta economies. Sadly it is an insult directed at the United States’ most important ally and trading partner on day 1 of a new administration.”
Alberta has invested $1.5 billion directly to TC Energy Corp. for the Keystone project along with contractual commitments of $6 billion more in loan guarantees.
Kenney has said if the project is scrapped, Alberta taxpayers are on the hook for about $1 billion.
The 1,947-kilometre pipeline was designed to carry 830,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb. From there it would connect with the company’s existing facilities to reach the U.S. Gulf Coast — one of the world’s biggest oil refining hubs.
Kenney said over 2,000 people have lost their job as a result of the decision. He added that he believes Biden retroactively vetoed approval for a pipeline that already existed.
Some 200 kilometres of pipe has already been installed for the expansion, including across the Canada-U.S. border, and construction has begun on pump stations in Alberta and several U.S. states.
“Directly attacking by far the largest part of the Canada- U.S. trade relationship, which is our energy industry and export,” Kenney said.
The premier added that he is disappointed that the Biden administration didn’t give Alberta or Canada the opportunity to present their case for moving forward with Keystone.
“Now a decision has been made without even given us a chance to communicate formally with the new administration, that’s not good faith,” he said.
In a statement late Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he spoke with then-president-elect Biden about the project in November. Trudeau expressed disappointment that the project was cancelled.
“Workers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and across Canada will always have our support. Canada is the single-largest supplier of energy to the United States, contributing to U.S. energy security and economic competitiveness, and supporting thousands of jobs on both sides of the border,” he said.
Kenney noted if the U.S. refuses to come to the table to discuss the cancellation of the Keystone project further, the Canadian government should consider sanctions in response.
“To defend our country’s vital economic interest,” he said, adding not doing so would create a dangerous precedent.
Kenney also noted in his press conference that he advised the Prime Minister that the Keystone project could generate an estimated $30 billion in additional provincial revenue over the next 20 years.
TC Energy announced a plan Sunday for the Keystone XL project to achieve net-zero emissions by spurring an investment of over US$1.7 billion in communities along the Keystone XL footprint to create about 1.6 gigawatts of renewable electric capacity.
The Calgary-based company has also struck a deal with four labour unions to build the pipeline and has an agreement in place with five Indigenous tribes to take a roughly $785 million ownership stake.
-With files from The Canadian Press