Former Vice President Joe Biden vowed Monday to stop the Keystone XL pipeline “for good” if elected president.
The pipeline, to carry oil from Canada’s tar sands into the United States, was blocked by President Barack Obama for years, even though it had passed an environmental review. The Obama administration stopped the project under pressure from radical environmentalists over concerns about climate change — though the alternative to the Keystone XL was simply that the oil would be exported from Canada to China, rather than to the U.S., and used there instead.
The Obama administration’s hostility to the pipeline complicated relations with Canada and led to a 2016 lawsuit by TransCanada, the company involved in the project, claiming Obama breached the terms of the NAFTA trade deal.
There was substantial public support for the Keystone XL project among local residents along the pipeline route. Organized labor also supported the project, anticipating the creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs. At one point the Teamsters union withheld support for Hillary Clinton in 2015 over her flip-flop against the Keystone XL.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order moving the Keystone XL project forward in his first week in office. He has also taken other actions to advance construction.
However, Biden would cancel that policy. He said in a statement to Politico on Monday: “Biden strongly opposed the Keystone pipeline in the last administration, stood alongside President Obama and Secretary [of State John] Kerry to reject it in 2015, and will proudly stand in the Roosevelt Room again as President and stop it for good by rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit.”
There could be important political repercussions for Biden’s stance, which appears aimed at appeasing the left wing of the Democratic Party. Minnesota benefits from the oil industry, and will be a key swing state in the 2020 presidential election.
As Democratic activist Savannah Shoemake wrote at RealClearPolitics last year about another pipeline project:
Democrats need to be cautious about blindly joining this fight [against the local Line 3 pipeline] for a few important reasons. First, the project is supported by local labor unions and leaders, as well as lawmakers in both parties in the state. Second, as we’ve seen from past protests over pipelines, they usually have a costly and negative impact on local residents, taxpayers, law enforcement and government – and therefore a negative impact on any politician who is supporting the protests.
Finally, Democratic candidates wading into the issue are automatically aligning themselves with the organizations that are leading the battle.
Notably, Minnesota was one of the few brights spots for Republicans in the 2018 House elections, where Pete Stauber won the 8th congressional district, in the Iron Range.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.