U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will rescind the Keystone XL Pipeline permit as soon as he’s sworn in on Wednesday, the CBC says (Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons).

“Rescind Keystone XL Pipeline permit,” says the transition team’s briefing note for Day One of the Biden Administration on Wednesday. 

This seems pretty definitive. 

Donald Trump, the departing U.S. president whether he likes it or not, signs the order permitting construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline to proceed on Jan. 24, 2017 (Photo: The White House).

Yup, according to the CBC the briefing note for Joe Biden’s first day on the job as president of the United States indicates pulling the plug on the bitumen pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf Coast of Texas is one of the Democrat’s top priorities. 

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to U.S. politics. 

It’s been a Biden promise from the get-go. It’s easy to do with the stroke of a pen. It’s devoutly wished for by key segments of his base. And it doesn’t cost the United States anything up front, fanciful arguments about the economic benefits of the KXL Pipeline notwithstanding. 

It’ll cost us, though, because Jason Kenney bet at least $1.5 billion of our money, and possibly $7.5 billion, on the dubious proposition that Donald J. Trump, almost certain to be judged the worst president in American history, would win re-election on Nov. 3, 2020. 

What possessed Mr. Kenney to do that? Wishful thinking? Something Devin Dreeshen, Alberta’s most famous red cap, told him? Something he read on Parler? 

Let it never be asked, Who could have seen this coming? Damn nearly everybody who’s been paying attention did. 

Speaking of history, Mr. Kenney’s crazy bet has to be near the top of the most irresponsible things ever done in Alberta’s. 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney as he looked in 2018 when he was campaigning to become premier of Alberta (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Will there be a political price to pay for his irresponsibility? Given that history, it’s hard to say. 

Keystone XL might’ve had a chance if Rachel Notley were still premier … because social licence. 

But Ms. Notley isn’t premier, is she? No it’s Mr. Kenney, the politician who excoriated the very idea of seeking social licence for Alberta’s carbon intensive heavy oil projects. 

He called it a myth. He called it a scam and a failure. He called it a lie. 

Well, it’s not fair to single out Mr. Kenney, really. Two years ago, the whole Canadian conservative movement was screaming the same scream. 

Many in the oilpatch too. Although TC Energy Corp., the company behind the project, finally got it – granted, a day late and a dollar short. 

In a desperate last ditch attempt earlier today, the former TransCanada PipeLines promised to power the line with solar and wind energy, pledged zero emissions, vowed to find Indigenous partners, and said it would hire union-only workers. 

Its budget for this plan: $1.7 billion. Coincidence? 

But Mr. Kenney’s sustained, prolonged attack on the idea that you could build social license for the infrastructure needed to export Alberta bitumen by not behaving like a shipload of environmental pirates was certainly one of the keys to his United Conservative Party’s success at the polls in April 2019. 

No social licence for us brainiacs here in Alberta! We were going to Make Alberta Great Again. And we had an ally in the White House, the greatest MAGA Man of them all, Mr. Trump himself. 

So, now what are we going to do? 

Will Alberta finally wake up and smell the coffee? 

Having invested so much effort in claiming Alberta’s economy was doomed without Keystone XL, Mr. Kenney is now going to have to come up with a new storyline. Presumably it will involve blaming Justin Trudeau — even though Canada’s prime minister risked his own political future by buying Alberta a pipeline for $4.5 billion in 2018. 

Double down on fossil fuels and shear the top off a mountain on the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies to mine coal? 

Surely not even Mr. Kenney would do that!

Oh, wait

Join the Conversation


  1. The next tantrum the Angry Midget will certainly be his last…in public life anyway.

    Over $7 billion committed to a pipeline that will never be. Given Kenney’s tendency to fund boondoggles, one wonder how much public money found its way into Trump-favoured PACs that supported is re-election? I’m sure Kenney spent a good deal of time at last year’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. networking with various GOP lawmakers. Perhaps he even scored an audience with the Bad Orange Man himself, with a warm introduction from Sen. Ted Cruz. (R- Texas) himself. I’m sure Trump liked Kenney and would do anything for him, provided he remembered his name five or ten minutes later.

    Kenney is closing on the end of his rope. Every wild promise is for nought, and the UCP rank and file are breathing down his neck.

    Time for an exit back to Ottawa.

    1. On the equator the solar panels are 75% effective. On the u.s / canada border Solar is less than 30% effective. Trump and his family never took one paycheque in 4 years from the government. You are vastly uneducated

      1. It’s a common myth that solar panels are less efficient in Alberta. Given the average length of the day throughout a year (same as the equator), the fact that Alberta generally has high annual sunshine-hours, and that solar panels are actually more efficient at colder temperatures than above 32 degrees Celsius (see the average daily temperature at the equator…solar panels operate using light, not heat), and that the tilt and materials used in solar panels is usually enough to slough off snow, solar can actually make great sense in Alberta. The more common issue is which direction your home faces and the tilt of your roof (the latter can be corrected to an extent during installation).

        As for Trump’s salary, you’re right that he donated most of his presidential salary (legally he had to take a paycheque though). However, it’s interesting to see that his donations were often made to federal departments after he had cut many times more than that (factors of 10-1000x more) from their operating budgets, ranging from national parks to health care. In addition, he reportedly continued to make money from private businesses and investments during his time in office. I cannot say how much of that, if any, may have been in conflict with his presidential role as reports vary and I’m not that familiar with U.S. law.

      2. Really?! How did his hotel properties in the “blind” trust do during these last four years? Pay attention!

      3. On the equator night and day are equal. In the arctic you have 24 hours of daylight in the summer. Even in Calgary you probably have 16 hours of daylight at the Solstice. Don’t insult are intelligence with the “integrity” of Trump and his family. Come to think of it calling them the “Family” is pretty accurate.

      4. Hey Rick,

        Everyone should never take a paycheque like Trump, and steal billions instead. Oh, ever heard of wind power? How about hydro?

        Oil is dying. If you don’t believe that ask Costa Rica. As for your claims about the inefficiency of solar, they are, to put it kindly, idiotic and uneducated.

      5. Doesn’t matter.

        Your favourite grifter-in-chief has been sent packing by an exhausted, angry, and disoriented America. Kenney will join him, soon, as well because a crook only has so much time to keep his grift going.

        Time to send you packing as well. Vamoose!

  2. Gee, what a surprise! I suppose one could forgive TC Energy for being a bit delusional about this, as they have invested years of time and effort in this. Although, the fact they had to take the word Canada out of their company name to keep this project alive should have been the huge clue their project was in serious trouble.

    I suspect the company’s bankers and investors also figured out the political risk was high and that is what led them to get money from Kenney. I am a bit surprised that Kenney, who has some political smarts on occasion, fell for it. In his defense, the company probably only cleverly planted the seed of the idea and let Kenney think it was really his idea and let hubris do the rest.

    I am not sure Kenney can stand much more bad news at this point if he wants his political career to survive much longer. The timing of this is inconvenient for him to say the least. Unfortunately, it is not as if he can call Biden and ask him to delay the project cancelation. Also, is it particularly hard to blame this one on Trudeau. It is not as if the PM made Kenney give $1,5 billion to TC Energy. No, this one is all on Kenney.

    So, when the you know what hits the fan soon, fiscal conservatives will be somewhere between very uncomfortable and angry. Its like a slow motion car wreck you can see ahead what will happen. Is there anyone Kenney hasn’t upset or alienated in Alberts over the last six months?

  3. Jason Kenney may be many things but an oilman is certainly not one of them. The jury is in on fossil fueled climate change and the big players in the oilpatch are putting as much distance as they can from the oilsands. Now that I think of it, casting Alberta and the oilsands as the boogey man works out good for them. The enviromental lobby has their “whipping boy” and the oil companys just have to put daylight between them and Alberta. Win Win. That’s a win for all the players except Jason Kenney and Alberta.

  4. Will Alberta finally wake up and smell the coffee? you ask

    don’t count on it

    next election is a quite a ways away and brainwashed and dumb runs deep here in oilburd’uh

  5. We have lots of mountains, and if each one fetches the price of a new car, we’ll have that $7.5-billion covered in no time.

    I’m actually looking forward to Steve Allan’s report now. It should be quite the thing.

  6. This is certainly a major Kenney/UCP boondoggle. On the other hand, this could also be his savior if he is able to mobilize popular opinion about how Alberta is being ripped off by the USA and not protected at home by the Liberals. It’s certainly worked before, although it will be interesting to see whether or not he is too wounded, politically, to fire off that sling. But wounded animals can be dangerous.

  7. This leaves me wondering what could be done with a pipeline that goes nowhere.

    Rural England is crisscrossed with narrow canals that were originally built for horse-drawn barges to haul freight, before the development of railroads rendered them obsolete. Today they are much loved by the locals to take boating holidays on. Can we come up with some other use for a pipeline?

  8. My question is: why did he make the decision at the time he did? There was no political benefit it at the time. Anyone with a risk assessment bias could have told him, that putting 1.5 billion dollars minimum up on an assumption is not the correct thing to do.

    1. “My question is: why did he make the decision at the time he did?”

      He just said on TV, it was to establish “facts on the ground” (presumably the border-crossing part).

      I didn’t hear him mention the War Room’s campaign to blockade US oil imports to Canada.

  9. Oh, Alberta…. there aren’t enough facepalms in the world.

    Why does everyone act as though right wingers are good with money? I have lived through Mulroney and Harper. Both of them benefited the rich enormously, but both of them grew the deficit, lessened our economic sovereignty, and reduced the quality of the jobs available to the majority of Canadians.

    Another serious question – if we’re going to hold the government responsible for our ability to get a job, why do we have a free market? For instance, say some automobile manufacturer accepts a giant bailout package from our government and then shuts down their Canadian operations so they can open a sweatshop overseas (you know, HYPOTHETICALLY). We don’t get mad at the company, we get mad at the government! Then we don’t give the government the tools necessary to directly create jobs or halt capital flight. So the government gives a whole bunch of our money to some billionaire to
    “create jobs”. Why not instead take that money and create our own damn jobs? Were crown corporations really such a bad thing? Air Canada didn’t try to undermine public health for private profit back when they were a crown corporation. Remember when we had a crown corporation to make our own medicine? Good thing we got rid of that!

    Policy suggestion: If your privately owned company is being subsidized, you should have to repay the subsidy, in its entirety, before your CEO gets a bonus and before your shareholders get paid.

  10. Anybody listen to CBC Radio Edmonton AM news this morning?

    CBC Edmonton AM news announcer Carol Amadeo: “U.S. President-elect Joe Biden plans to cancel the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office — a move that would be devastating to Alberta and the Canadian economy.”

    1) Is this dramatic and wholly negative characterization of President Biden’s cancellation of Keystone XL fact or opinion? Whose opinion? Who asked CBC News staff to editorialize? A clear violation of objectivity.
    Why is CBC mixing editorial with news content? On what other topics will Ms. Amadeo entertain us with her personal opinions?

    2) Is Ms. Amadeo’s claim factual or hyperbole? This is the sort of drama we expect from The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).
    CBC News failed to support its claim with evidence or argument. Is CBC News not obliged to support its claims with evidence?
    Will cancelling Keystone XL truly devastate Alberta and the Canadian economy? Evidence, please.
    Or will it spur us to join the 21st century, diversify, and develop more sustainable economic sectors instead? Will it give Canada the kick in the pants it needs to invest in renewables instead? Will it allow Canada to finally meet its (inadequate) climate targets?
    How did AB’s oil industry prosper for so many years without this allegedly essential pipeline?
    Is it not the purpose of the Trans Mountain expansion project to export our oil to more lucrative markets overseas?

    3) On whose behalf was Ms. Amadeo speaking? Whose agenda does CBC’s catastrophization serve? All Albertans and Canadians? Climate activists? Climate scientists? Ordinary Canadians concerned about their grandchildren’s future in a world facing mounting climate change costs? Or for CAPP and the Big Banks?
    Why is CBC News acting as a cheerleader for pipelines and the oil industry? Why is CBC selling out our children and future generations on climate change?
    Did Edmonton AM interview any climate activists or scientists before broadcasting its verdict? Did Edmonton AM make any effort to obtain a response from pipeline opponents? Or has the national broadcaster decided their views do not count?

    4) Ironically, the subsequent Edmonton AM news broadcast at 8:30 AM concluded with a report on rising severe-weather costs in Canada, with three of the most expensive events in 2020 taking place in Alberta:
    “Hail in Calgary, flooding in Fort McMurray and storms in central and southern Alberta were the first, second and third most expensive severe weather events in terms of insurance claims, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). Craig Stewart, vice-president of federal affairs with IBC, said Canadians will continue to see rising costs from severe weather damage due to climate change.”
    Stewart (IBC) speaking on CBC Edmonton AM: “So it’s the fourth highest on record. And it’s notable to say that nine of the top ten big years have just occurred in the last decade. So, certainly, we’re seeing an acceleration in payouts. And it’s due to increased severe and intense weather events. Things cost more these days. That’s part of the equation.”
    Amadeo concluded: “Globally, it was the worst year on record for payouts, with $270 billion in payouts worldwide.”
    The irony seems lost on CBC. When is CBC going to connect the dots?
    Why are our tax dollars going to support oil industry propaganda?
    When is CBC News going to get on the right side of history and science?
    Appalling news coverage. Very disappointed.

    1. An observation, a warning and a comment Geoffrey.

      I guess you’ve never listened to CBC Edmonton before. Very pro-petroleum, very pro-business, mostly politically correct and not very well educated.

      DO NOT listen to CBC Calgary! All of Edmonton, only more so. Plus self-entitled and whiney.

      I don’t think many listen to CBC in Albaturda. CBC seems desperate to gain and keep an audience and have fallen into the trap of following a few of their own more popular historic personalities.
      It’s shameful and embarrassing for a national broadcaster with a top pedigree.

  11. Today the premier held a Covid press conference to discuss Keystone XL, and since one thing is being cancelled, another thing must be cancelled, which is the vaccinations that were scheduled for this week, because the 16,000 excess doses announced Thursday are gone. Putting two things together in a press conference that was announced for one sure makes it look like the two cancellations are linked. We have officially reached fresh h*ll. It’s only Monday, so four more days of even fresher h*ll await.

  12. Will Alberta (Kenney) “wake up and smell the coffee?” It’s the same as asking: will Donald J tRump wake up and smell the Biden victory?

    Anybody dumb enough to ape tRump to get elected, and again to incite and aim partisan enmity and hatred, and still again to dismiss basic Covid protocols, is probably also dumb enough not to realize when it’s over, jumping sharks that are themselves jumping sharks.

    With superlatives enough to lame Guinness, the K-Boy grasps for rationales to reverse the irreversible and to blot out the sun by deploying non-fossil fuel ways to continue polluting the atmosphere by ‘solar-wind-piping’ bitumen that must first be smelted, then the refined and, finally, the combusted into the atmosphere, the lowest grade, yet highest GHG-producing petroleum (save asphalt) of which Alberta is especially well burdened. Furthermore, “carbon capture and sequestration” is 100% pure slogan which, if ever possibly realized, would wipe out the already-thin profit margin for this low-quality commodity.

    Or is it Captain Ahab the K-Boy apes? “We seek the white elephant!” Better hope the coffin with two carved pipelines on its lid pops out of the vortex else the “clean coal,” “war room” UCP do the Queequeg boogie and sink out of sight. I can almost see the listless arm waving out of a tangle of fouled harpoon ropes.

    Kenney even uses the same tautology as The Orange One: instead of impossibly accusing his partisan rivals of electoral fraud in 2020, repeatedly for the four and a half years prior, purely so’s to submit it as proof or ‘evidence that speaks for itself’ after losing the election fair and square, the K-Boy says the US “owes Canada” some kind of “respect” and consideration —I guess of his billion dollar-plus gamble that tRump would win and approve Keystone pipeline. It’s like threatening to suing the casino when one loses a bet. Nay, it’s like deluding oneself that such a victory was ever possible, or that longtime Democratic Party GHG emission-reduction policy wouldn’t inevitably be implemented (that is, that human-caused climate change doesn’t exist).

    But is it any more likely to succeed than The Orang-Spray-Goo-Tan’s vow to run for president again in 2024? I guess it all rides on how well they play cards they ain’t got.

    Americans of every (either) stripe will soon realize (whether they admit it or not) that they wasted four years on tRump. If Kenney’s lockstep is consistent, he’ll probably be similarly assessed in a couple more years—that is, at the end of his own wasted four.

    Just like the USA, Alberta has to get back on track—likewise, not of doing the same thing, but of doing the new thing.

  13. Thank God Kenney stole $18 billion from the teacher’s pensions, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to absorb the loss of $7 billion on the TMx pipeline gamble.

    Which reminds me, how much pension money do nurses have?

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