It’s official: After seven years of withering on the vine, the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to the US Gulf Coast is dead, by President Barack Obama’s hand.
Newly-minted Canadian Prime Minister and avowed Keystone supporter Justin Trudeau is reportedly disappointed at the decision but says he respects the US government’s right to make it. “The Canada-U.S. relationship is much bigger than any one project and I look forward to a fresh start with President Obama to strengthen our remarkable ties in a spirit of friendship and cooperation,” said Trudeau in a statement.
Obama finally came to the long-awaited decision on the basis that the project would “not serve the national interests”, adding:
[quote]The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy.[/quote]
He also noted that it had taken on an “overinflated role” in the climate debate and relations with Canada.
The announcement explains proponent TransCanada’s recent request to the US government to “pause” its pipeline review – which the Obama administration rejected just two days before officially killing the project. It evidently didn’t want to drag the process out any further, preferring, at long last, a clean break.
On that note, Mr. Trudeau would do well not to sulk over the death of a project he once ventured to Washington, D.C. to defend. Trudeau also argued in a speech to Canada’s oil men and women at Calgary’s Petroleum Club that then-PM Harper’s downfall was his ham-fisted handling of the file, not the fact that he was backing it. Trudeau argued that he could do a better job selling the project south of the border. “Alberta’s interests have been compromised more than just about anyone else’s by Mr. Harper’s divisiveness,” Trudeau told the energy industry.
“It has made enemies of people who ought to be your friends, and turned what should have been a reasonable debate into an over-the-top rhetorical war. Most importantly, it has impeded progress.”
But he made no bones about his support for the project, saying:
[quote]Let me be clear: I support Keystone XL because, having examined the facts, and accepting the judgment of the National Energy Board, I believe it is in the national interest…On balance, it would create jobs and growth, strengthen our ties with the world’s most important market, and generate wealth…Most of all, it is in keeping with what I believe is a fundamental role of the Government of Canada: to open up markets abroad for Canadian resources, and to help create responsible and sustainable ways to get those resources to those markets.[/quote]
Apparently, Mr. Obama didn’t share those views – nor did the woman who wants to replace him in the Oval Office, Hilary Clinton. The former secretary of state, who at one time oversaw the project’s review, has spoken out against it during her presidential campaign.
By the time Mr. Trudeau took over the file from Harper, it was clearly too far gone for him to do anything about it. Now, if he’s serious about forging a new relationship with Obama and the US, he would do well not to shed a tear over Keystone and to move on to more important matters.