The new Chair of the Senate Energy Committee, Sen. Joe Manchin, has asked President Biden to reconsider revoking the license for the Keystone XL oil pipeline in the latest episode of a saga that has been dragging on for years.
The Democratic senator from West Virginia and long-time supporter of the coal industry said in a letter to the President that pipelines “continue to be the safest mode to transport our oil and natural gas resources, and they support thousands of high-paying, American union jobs,″ as quoted by the Associated Press.
Indeed, pipelines have been found to be a safer option for the transportation of crude oil and other hydrocarbon liquids than oil trains, which Canadian oil producers have been forced to resort to for lack of sufficient pipeline capacity.
However, following his green energy agenda, President Biden canceled the project with an executive order on the first day of his presidency, drawing ire from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who called the move a gut punch and an insult.
The province’s government is currently considering forcing Washington to pay it for the money poured so far into the project, which amounts to about $1.2 billion. According to an official from Premier Kenney’s office, Alberta may invoke terms in the North American Free Trade Agreement to recoup at least some of its expenses.
Critics of the pipeline have argued that U.S. refiners do not need any more import capacity for Canadian crude. Yet analysts note that with or without Keystone XL, U.S. refiners’ demand for heavy crude is unlikely to decline spontaneously, leaving them exposed to more imports from OPEC rather than neighbor Canada. At the same time, Canadian oil will need to come in by train, which carries risks of derailment and a lot bigger spills—and possibly explosions—than those likely to occur with pipelines.