By Camille Aubin
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By signing, in his first day in office, a decree confirming the return of the United States to the Paris climate agreement, newly elected President Joe Biden at the same time revoked federal permits for Keystone XL (KXL). This cross-border pipeline project of 1,897 kilometers, planned to transport 800,000 barrels of Canadian crude oil from Alberta to American refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, was categorically refused by Barack Obama in 2015 – Joe Biden was then vice president – before being moved to fast-track in 2017 by Donald Trump during his first month at the White House.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney proclaimed the decision a “gut punch for Canadian and Alberta economies” and “an insult directed at the United States’s most important ally and trading partner.” He also threatened legal action to recoup Alberta’s $1.5 billion investment in the project, a move to which the Trudeau government has not given support. Justin Trudeau and Canada’s ambassador to the United States, Kirsten Hillman, indicated that while disappointed with the decision, they had resigned themselves to living with it and applaud the president’s plan to tackle climate change.

Here in the East Kootenay, Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison called the KXL cancellation “devastating news.”

Canada and Alberta will be drastically affected by the KXL cancellation. TC Energy estimated that 2,800 jobs would have added to the Canadian economy, mainly in Alberta. The amount of crude bitumen (which comes from the oilsands) produced in Canada is 2.9 million barrels per day – KXL would have been able to transport an extra 830,000 barrels per day.

However, even before Alberta decided to put in funds, KXL struggled to find investors. One reason, perhaps, is the global concern over climate change: an increasing number of banks and major companies are disinvesting in jurisdictions that relies on coal and petroleum extraction. Ottawa and Washington, also, have recently prioritized policies addressing the climate emergency over new investments in traditional fossil fuel-based industries.

“We’re going to transition to a clean economy,” said President Biden. Biden’s comments emphasized the need to transition away from fossil fuels.

These words sound like a dream to environmentalists. Canadians must pause and think about the direction that the energy sector is going. The international marketplace asks for greener and cleaner energy products, which we do not produce. Oil is worthless if no one buys it. Without real thoughtful change, our petroleum industry and energy sectors will be left behind, which will truly hurt the Canadian economy.