Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “disappointed” by the decision of new US President Joe Biden who blocked a pipeline project between the two countries a few hours after taking office on Wednesday.
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Upon arriving at the White House, Biden signed several presidential decrees, one of which opposes the controversial project to build the Keystone XL pipeline between Canada and the United States.
This project, supported by Ottawa, was launched in 2008, canceled for the first time by Barack Obama for environmental reasons and then put back on track by Donald Trump for economic reasons.
“We salute the president’s commitment to fight climate change, but we are disappointed by his decision on the Keystone XL project,” responded Trudeau, hours after congratulating the new president.
“However, we recognize the president’s decision to keep the promise he made during the election campaign,” he added.
Mr. Trudeau raised the issue of the pipeline in a telephone interview with Mr. Biden shortly after his election last November. The Canadian leader announced Tuesday that he intended to call the new US president “in the next few days” on this subject.
The Canadian group TC Energy, which builds Keystone, for its part announced the suspension of work a few hours before the signing of the decree by Mr. Biden.
The group based in Calgary, in Western Canada, also said it was “disappointed” by the decision of the new American president, which will result in “the dismissal of thousands of unionized workers”.
Mr. Trudeau, under pressure from the conservative opposition and from the oil province of Alberta hit by the fall in the price of black gold, recalled that Canada is “the main supplier of energy to the United States” .
“As such, we are contributing to the energy security and economic competitiveness of the United States and we support thousands of jobs on both sides of the border,” he added.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney immediately denounced a “deeply disturbing” decision.
“This is not how you treat your friend and ally,” he hammered during a press point, calling on Ottawa for a “strong and meaningful” response.
Canada has the third-largest proven reserves in the world, mainly contained in the oil sands of the west whose exploitation is criticized for its environmental impact.
The project, now compromised, was to make it possible to transport as of 2023 more than 800,000 barrels of oil per day between the Canadian province of Alberta and the American refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.
TC Energy resumed construction last year on the 1947 km northern portion of the pipeline between the Canadian border and the state of Nebraska, with construction on the southern portion to Texas already completed.
TC Energy estimated the cost of this work at 9.1 billion US dollars (7.5 billion euros), in its most recent results.