Alberta premier wants direct compensation from U.S. if Keystone XL pipeline dead

·3 min read

EDMONTON —
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is making another demand of Justin Trudeau over the Keystone XL pipeline ahead of the prime minister's call today with new U.S. President Joe Biden.

In a letter to Trudeau, Kenney reiterates that the prime minister must press for a meeting with Biden so that Canada can make its case for the pipeline, which Biden cancelled this week on his first day in office.

Kenney also repeats that if that fails, Trudeau must take retaliatory measures such as trade sanctions.

But he also asks that Trudeau press Biden for direct compensation.

Kenney says his United Conservative government and pipeline builder TC Energy Corp. invested in the project believing it was going ahead under stable review and governance.

The premier committed $1.5 billon to the project last year, with another $6 billion in loan guarantees.

Biden made it clear last spring that he would cancel the Keystone line if he became president. He said that shipping more product from Alberta’s oilsands did not mesh with his broader objective of battling climate change.

The Keystone line would have taken more Alberta oil to refineries and ports in the United States to relieve a North American bottleneck that has led to discounts and sometimes sharp reductions in the price of Alberta’s oil.

In the letter dated Thursday, Kenney says the Keystone project that Biden once rejected is now a different, more environmentally friendly undertaking.

“Keystone XL will be the first pipeline of its kind to operate at net-zero emissions on its first day of operations and will purchase 100 per cent of its power load from renewable energy sources,” Kenney writes.

“I propose that we approach Washington together to begin a conversation about North American energy and climate policy.”

If that doesn’t happen, he is pushing for “proportionate economic consequences."

“At the very least, I call upon the government of Canada to press the U.S. administration to compensate TC Energy and the government of Alberta for billions of dollars of costs incurred in the construction of Keystone XL to date.

“These costs were incurred on the assumption that the United States had a predictable regulatory framework and based on the presidential permit authorizing the Keystone XL border crossing, which was installed in the summer of 2019.”

In Calgary, Opposition NDP energy critic Kathleen Ganley called again for Kenney to release details of the Keystone deal.

She said Kenney knew when he spent the money that Keystone was risky, given it was facing further legal challenges and that the Democrat contender for president at the time, Biden, had opposed it in the past.

“The path forward (for Keystone) depended on the re-election of Donald Trump,” said Ganley.

“Premier Kenney made a $7.5-billion bet on Trump’s re-election. Unfortunately for Albertans, Jason Kenney lost that bet, and now he’s trying to blame everyone but himself for losing billions of Albertans’ money.

“The responsibility rests squarely on his shoulders.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press