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Alberta construction leaders push back on Biden Keystone rejection

Warren Frey
Alberta construction leaders push back on Biden Keystone rejection

Alberta industry leaders are condemning Joe Biden’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline as political spin that could harm the Canadian economy.

The leading U.S. Democratic Party candidate announced on May 18 he would, if elected as president, tear up Donald Trump’s approvals of the Keystone XL pipeline project.

“It’s political posturing and unfortunately, it’s predictable,” said Calgary Construction Association president Bill Black.

“It’s a sad reflection of how polarized the world has become. One extreme gets in and does the opposite of what the other extreme did for the past four years.”

Edmonton Construction Association president John McNicoll said his organization would be “justifiably angry” if Keystone approvals were shelved.

“Open, fair competition is within our trade agreements with the United States, and Joe Biden’s  plan to shut out Canadian supply and the success of our U.S. partners for the favouring of elements of the electorate under the guise of being ‘environmental’ is laughable and short cited,” McNicoll said. 

“Election ‘spin’ and the manipulation of facts causes a decline in the trust of our own western civilization and its structures for leadership.”

Ben Brunnen, vice-president, oil sands and fiscal and economic policy with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), said Canada and the United States have a long-standing history of trade and investment collaboration and stressed the importance of maintaining those relationships.

“At this time of unprecedented economic downturn, it is imperative to maintain fully reciprocal market access for Canadian oil and natural gas between Canada and the U.S — now more than ever — to help ensure our mutual energy security and high standards of environmental protection,” Brunnen said.

“Keystone XL is a critical component in our long-term economic recovery that will generate tens of thousands of much-needed jobs and billions of dollars in government revenues.”

“We’re almost weary of these statements at this point. We’ve seen so many from so many angles both inside and outside Canada,” Black added. “Even if the pipeline goes ahead, it won’t give the relief the industry needs right now.

“It’s a political position made for campaign purposes. Even the wellbeing of our planet has been politicized.”

True sustainability is based on a triple bottom line of the economy, the environment and people and communities, Black said, and can only achieved by focusing on all three aspects.

“The triple bottom line is ignored from a Canadian perspective, but preserved for American oil interests, so you can’t help but be cynical,” Black said.

The $8-billion Keystone XL project is planned to transport crude oil from Hardisty, Alta. to Steele City, Nebraska. It has faced legal challenges, protests and delays since 2011. Most recently the Alberta government announced in March it would invest $1.5 billion in financial support to Calgary-based TC Energy to enable completion of the pipeline and would backstop the project to a maximum of $6 billion via a loan guarantee in 2021.

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