TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday his officials are in regular contact with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration about a long disputed oil pipeline that reports say Biden will cancel on his first day in office.
Trudeau said over the last number of days, including Tuesday, that his officials have communicated arguments in favour of the Keystone XL pipeline to the highest levels of his administration. A few Canadian media outlets reported Sunday that Biden plans to scrap the pipeline immediately upon taking office. Biden’s plan is outlined in transition documents seen by the outlets.
“We are speaking with the highest level of the administration to promote our arguments in support of this project,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau said he looks forward to talking to Biden about it in the coming days.
Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said this week the transition team had no comment on the pipeline. A person familiar with the pipeline matter said Monday that the document cited by Canadian news media was a draft slide that was a few weeks old. Despite the timing suggested in the draft slide, everything on it “may not happen on day one,” the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record on the matter.
The 1,700-mile (2,735-kilometre) pipeline would carry roughly 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.
First proposed in 2008, the pipeline has become emblematic of the tensions between economic development and curbing the fossil fuel emissions that are causing climate change. The Obama administration rejected it, but President Donald Trump revived it and has been a strong supporter. Construction already started.
Trudeau raised Keystone XL as a top priority when he spoke with Biden in a phone call in November. The project is meant to expand critical oil exports for Canada, which has the third-largest oil reserves in the world.
Trudeau and Biden are politically aligned and there are expectations for a return to normal relations after four years of Trump, but the pipeline is expected to be an early irritant as Biden has said he would cancel it.
Trudeau has tried to balance the oil industry’s desire for more pipelines with environmentalists’ concerns. He cancelled one major pipeline to the Pacific coast from oil-rich Alberta, but approved another and instituted a national carbon tax.
Trudeau said Canadians will be watching the swearing-in of Biden and Vice-President-elect Harris.
“This moment will mark a new chapter in the incredible relationship between our two countries,” Trudeau said.
Rob Gillies, The Associated Press