In one of his first official acts after taking office, President Joe Biden revoked the federal permit for the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline that would have traversed eastern Montana on its way from the Alberta oilfields to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Wednesday move at least temporarily halts the construction on the highly contentious project that has seen several administrative stops and starts since its first application for state approval in 2008. It also raises the prospect that the oil could travel instead via pipeline through Iowa or on rail through Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, Tennessee and Louisiana.
Although several Republican lawmakers and others held out hope that the project would be renewed in the future, TC Energy, the Canadian company that owns the pipeline, said “advancement of the project will be suspended.”
Environmental activists and those eager for the potential billions in revenue the project could bring have fought over the proposed 1,100-mile pipeline for years.
The pipeline would transport crude oil from Canada to an existing pipeline network in Nebraska with connections to the Gulf of Mexico, spanning the Canadian border in Montana and across 285 miles in six eastern counties in the state.
It could also potentially transport oil from the Williston Basin, which includes Montana.
Commitment to climate change
Biden’s order revoked a permit his predecessor, Donald Trump, promised in his first days in office in 2017 and signed in March 2019. The Trump permit reversed an Obama administration decision not to grant the necessary permits.
Biden revoked the permit as part of an executive order related to public health, the environment and climate change. The order said the pipeline was not in the national interest and sent the wrong message to other countries about Biden’s commitment to addressing climate change and addressing renewable energy.
“Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives,” he said in the order.
Environmentalists have opposed the pipeline because it facilitates the use of fossil fuels that contribute to carbon pollution and climate change. Environmental groups and allies cheered Wednesday’s action on Keystone XL and an order rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, and pushed for more action to address climate change.
“These huge first steps show Biden is serious about climate action, but re-entering the Paris Agreement and canceling Keystone must be the start of a furious race to avert catastrophe,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Much more is needed, and we’re increasingly hopeful the administration will stop approving new fossil fuel projects and speed the transition to clean, distributed energy that climate science and justice demand.” Read more