President Biden’s Decision to End the Keystone XL Pipeline Harms American Workers

A core tenet of Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign was to “Build Back Better,” a commitment to use the powers of the federal government to help the economy recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet on his very first day in office, President Biden issued an Executive Order ending the Keystone XL pipeline - a decision that kills thousands of American jobs and could make our economic recovery more arduous. While we are hopeful the Biden administration will be an advocate for workers and American businesses, his actions are nonetheless concerning. If, however, the President’s actions yesterday are merely a preview of his future economic policies, workers are in for a rough few years ahead.

In an effort to address climate change, President Biden on Wednesday signed an Executive Order which terminates the ability of TC Energy to proceed with constructing a subterranean pipeline in the United States. This project, which has been in the works for over a decade, would have transported hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil from Canada down through the midwest for storage. Although the pipeline has strong support from the Canadian government, it was blocked by the Obama administration. It was subsequently approved by the Trump administration in 2018. The House overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill in 2014 to approve construction of the pipeline.

According to the Keystone XL website, the pipeline would support about 11,000 U.S. jobs in 2021 – including 8,000 union jobs – and generate $1.6 billion in gross wages. Moreover, the project would have resulted in billions of dollars in investment and strengthened trade relations with our neighbors to the north. Given the strong economic benefits of the pipeline - particularly during the ongoing economic crisis - pressing forward with construction should be a no-brainer. 

Unfortunately, it seems some radical anti-fossil fuel interests have achieved their goal of ending the project for good. Many opponents of the pipeline claim it would be an environmental disaster, leading to oil spills and worsening the effects of climate change. Despite their claims, the pipeline has repeatedly cleared environmental and regulatory hurdles, including a report by the Obama State Department stating the pipeline would not have a major impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Further, that same Obama-era report pointed out that other transmission methods of oil from Canada’s oil sands could potentially create greater environmental risks.

As a result of this Executive Order, TC Energy announced “advancement of the project will be suspended” and they would begin making layoffs. 

With many in Washington celebrating President Biden’s inauguration, they should keep in mind that many families in the Midwest are now left without work and wondering about their financial future - a direct result of the president’s executive order. We strongly urge the Biden administration to reverse course and allow the pipeline project to proceed.