CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Republican lawmakers with the U.S. House of Representatives held a forum Tuesday concerning President Joe Biden’s decision revoking the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, highlighting their concerns with the project’s cancellation.
U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., hosted the event, in which members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked participants about the impact of the administration’s decision.
Biden signed an executive order on Jan. 20 — his first day in office — to cancel the 2019 permit for the project, which would have resulted in the transportation of thousands of barrels of oil from Canada to Nebraska. The president explained the project did not serve the national interest as the administration focuses its attention on economic development related to clean energy.
The Obama administration did not approve the project permit in 2015, but the Trump administration backed the pipeline in 2017 and signed a cross-border authorization two years later. TC Energy Corp., the company behind the project, estimates the pipeline would have directly employed 11,000 Americans and resulted in more than $1.6 billion in gross wages.
McKinley, the Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee’s ranking member, said the president’s decision will result in lost jobs and economic opportunities. He also warned the administration’s actions could lead to similar cancellations of other oil and natural gas projects.
“Keystone is just one pipeline project under the microscope,” he said.
“From a business perspective, this uncertainty causes alarm for any of us that have been in business. Financial institutions and investors look for certainty when funding a project,” McKinley added. “Why would Wall Street or any other entity invest in a project that requires a permit simply to see it withdrawn by a different administration, which could be years later?”
McKinley and the other lawmakers heard from Saskatchewan, Canada Premier Scott Moe, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen and John Stoody with the Association of Oil Pipelines. Moe, whose province is impacted by the current and proposed pipelines, argued the Biden administration’s decision affects the economy of both the United States and Canada, as well as the trade relationship between the two countries.
“Oil can and will get to market somehow, and it will just go in a different route,” he said. “It will go by rail or, in many cases, by truck.”
Moe also noted the pipeline would be a safer method for transporting oil with fewer emissions produced through the process.
“Without new pipelines like Keystone XL, shipments of oil by rail and going to increase in the years ahead for all of us in North America,” Moe added.
TC Energy in January announced the project would be fully powered by renewable sources of energy by 2030.
Knudsen said Montana was not consulted about the president’s decision before Biden signed the executive order. Knudsen also criticized the Biden administration’s energy and economic goals as pipeline work remains halted.
“The promises are as empty as the pipes sitting idly in the empty construction yards in Montana now,” he said.
Knudsen and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton are leading a legal challenge to the executive order; twenty-one state attorneys general, including West Virginia’s Patrick Morrisey, argue the president’s revocation of the permit is a regulation of interstate commerce, which only Congress has the authority to oversee.
U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., have also spoken about the administration’s decision; Manchin wrote a letter to Biden in February asking him to reconsider the decision. Capito has argued against the administration’s energy platform and opposed confirming Cabinet members responsible for advising the president on energy policies.