Joe Biden made more comments about the Keystone XL pipeline project on Friday and Alberta’s premier was quick to fire back.
The presumptive Democratic nominee reiterated his promise to stop the project if he’s elected U.S. president.
“I’ve been against Keystone from the beginning. It is tarsands that we don’t need — that in fact is very, very high pollutant,” Biden said in an interview with CNBC.
Biden said he wouldn’t want to stop all oil projects immediately, but vowed to transition the U.S. “gradually… to a clean economy.”
He said Keystone “does not economically, nor, in my view, environmentally, make any sense.”
At a news conference in Calgary, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney was asked about what Biden said.
“The comments made by [former U.S.] vice-president Biden suggest that he hasn’t been well or accurately briefed on the dependence of the American economy on Canadian energy exports,” Kenney said.
“It’s a hugely important strategic development for the United States that North America is now energy independent — no longer dependent on imports from OPEC dictatorships like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.”
Kenney also pointed out the impact the original Keystone pipeline has on American jobs.
“The Keystone pipeline began operating a decade ago,” the premier said. “It delivers about 600,000 barrels a day of heavy Alberta crude to refineries primarily in the Midwest in Illinois.
“So, a whole lot of jobs and the economy in the American Midwest are dependent on that supply of energy through the Keystone pipeline.”
“We would hope to have a chance to ensure Mr. Biden was aware of these facts and also aware that the building trades union, the construction unions, the steelworkers unions — which are traditional supporters of Mr. Biden’s party — are strongly in favour of the Keystone XL pipeline expansion, which has already crossed the border, which is creating thousands of jobs on both sides of the border and which will ensure that the United States is no longer dependent on OPEC crude,” Kenney said.
He also disputed Biden’s claims that the pipeline is neither economically viable nor environmentally responsible.
“He said Keystone is not economically viable,” Kenney said. “It has been operating for 10 years, profitably and successfully, both for the refineries, American consumers and Canadian producers.
“Keystone XL is obviously economically viable because the shippers have signed up for long-term contracts to ensure that and the refineries in the U.S. are desperate for the product.”
“He also said that Keystone — and I’m going to assume he meant here Keystone XL — was not environmentally responsible,” Kenney added.
“But, in fact, two reports conducted by the U.S. State Department, under the leadership of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, concluded that Keystone XL would actually reduce CO2 emissions because shipping oil by pipeline means substantially lower emissions than the alternative, which is shipping it by rail.”
Kenney said he looks forward to having the opportunity to make sure Biden is “aware of these facts.”
“One way or another, the American economy needs this energy,” he said.
“It will either get it from the socialist dictatorship and OPEC state Venezuela or from the American ally and democratic free-market economy of Alberta. And either it will be shipped from Alberta to U.S. refineries by rail with higher carbon emissions or safely by pipe with lower carbon emissions.”