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Kenney calls Biden’s Keystone XL decision a ‘gut punch,’ wants Trudeau to consider economic sanctions

Last Updated Jan 21, 2021 at 11:38 am MDT

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says his government is “deeply disturbed” by U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to kill the Keystone XL pipeline expansion project.

Kenney said the move was a “gut punch for the Canadian and Alberta economies” and that the new U.S. administration should have consulted Canada before taking the decision.

“It is an insult directed at the United States’ most important ally and trading partner on day one of a new administration.

“Let’s be clear about what happened today. The leader of our closet ally retroactively vetoed approval for a pipeline that already exists, and which is co-owned by a Canadian government, directly attacking by far the largest part of the Canada-U.S. trade relationship, which is our energy industry and exports.”

On Wednesday, the newly elected Biden carried out his campaign promise to tear up the presidential permit keeping the Keystone XL expansion alive, hours after the pipeline owner –TC Energy – said it would halt work on the project.

“The decision was made without giving Canada the ability to make the case about how it would strengthen and bolster both economies,” added Kenney.

“The entire point of this Keystone XL project was to strengthen the Canada-U.S. relationship.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also expressed disappointment at the news.

“While we welcome the President’s commitment to fight climate change, we are disappointed but acknowledge the President’s decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL,” said Trudeau in a brief statement that outlined previous efforts to make a case for the project to the incoming administration.

Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole called the cancellation of the permit “devastating.”

“We need to get as many people back to work, in every part of Canada, in every sector, as quickly as possible. The loss of this important project only makes that harder,” he said.

READ MORE: On Day One, Biden to undo Trump policies on climate, virus

Kenney said he is calling on Trudeau to discuss Biden’s decision with the new U.S. administration.

“Surely that is the least that our closest friend and ally owes Canada, which is to respectfully discuss and review the decisions,” he said.

If Biden chooses not to meet Trudeau to discuss the issue, Kenney says Canada should impose “meaningful trade and economic sanctions in response to defend our country’s vital economic interest. Not doing so would create a dangerous precedent.”

TC Energy approved spending US$8 billion in the spring of 2020 to complete Keystone XL after the Alberta government agreed to invest about US$1.1 billion (C$1.5 billion) as equity and guarantee a US$4.2-billion project loan.

Kenney has said the province has about $1 billion at risk if the project is killed.

The 1,947-kilometre pipeline is designed to carry 830,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb. From there it would connect with the company’s existing facilities to reach the U.S. Gulf Coast – one of the world’s biggest oil refining hubs.

–with files from Dan Healing, The Canadian Press