Biden Commits to Rescinding Keystone XL Permit–Spelling the End for the Pipeline

Image: rblood/Flickr via NRDC

To put it bluntly, the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline has been a 12-year catastrophe. From when the pipeline (stretching from Alberta to Nebraska) was first proposed in 2008, to when it was vetoed by President Obama in 2015, to the Trump administration’s fractured attempt to reinstate construction, the pipeline has been the embodiment of the battle between the past and the future when it comes to energy infrastructure.

Environmentalists are almost universally against the pipeline’s expansion which is why it was welcome news when Joe Biden announced yesterday that he would rescind President Donald Trump’s permit allowing the Keystone XL oil pipeline to cross the border into the U.S. A move that, as Politico explained, would effectively kill the controversial project.

Why This Matters: President Trump has argued that the pipeline would create 28,000 jobs though it’s actually estimated it would only create 35 permanent jobs–unless you count the workers it takes to clean up leaks on existing parts of the overall Keystone pipeline. Aside from the fossil fuel industry, there doesn’t seem to be any clear winner that would benefit from the construction of KXL. If the government truly wanted to help fossil fuel workers, they would help put them to work fixing existing methane leaks in oil wells as well as cleaning up abandoned wells.

Clear Signal: Biden campaign policy director Stef Feldman said in a written statement to POLITICO:

“Biden strongly opposed the Keystone pipeline in the last administration, stood alongside President Obama and Secretary Kerry to reject it in 2015, and will proudly stand in the Roosevelt Room again as President and stop it for good by rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit.” 

Former Vice President Biden has been criticized for his unwillingness to commit to banning all fracking should he be elected president. From the beginning of his 2020 presidential bid, Biden has worked on a measured approach when it comes to fossil fuel energy infrastructure. But committing to putting a stop to the Keystone XL pipeline sends a message of Biden’s commitment to putting the nation on a path to a clean energy economy.

Now the question will be, how will the Biden campaign counter attacks from the right that squashing KXL is a blow to jobs? If the campaign can successfully message its stance on the pipeline it will prove to be an important roadmap for the Democratic party–which has yet to find its footing in messaging the massive job-creating potential of the Green New Deal.


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