Washington, Jan 21 (IANS) US President Joe Biden has signed an executive order to revoke the existing presidential permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, which would carry oil from Canada to the American Gulf Coast.
Oil industry groups and Republicans in the US opposed the move, arguing it would result in job losses and put energy security at risk, Xinhua news agency.
But environmental groups and Democrats praised Biden’s decision, arguing the Keystone XL project would worsen climate change.
“President Biden hit the ground running on the strongest White House climate plan ever, with executive action to rejoin the landmark Paris climate agreement, reject the dirty tar sands pipeline,” Mitchell Bernard, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement on Wednesday.
“It makes the US once more part of the global climate solution-not the problem. It makes clear that the country is moving away from dirty fossil fuels and toward cleaner, smarter ways to power our future,” Bernard said.
TC Energy Corporation, a Canadian company behind the Keystone XL project, said earlier Wednesday that “advancement of the project will be suspended” in anticipation of Biden’s order.
“TC Energy will review the decision, assess its implications, and consider its options,” the company said in a statement, noting revoking the permit for the project would “directly lead to the layoff of thousands of union workers.”
Following the order, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that “we are disappointed but acknowledge the President’s decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL”.
“I look forward to working with President Biden to reduce pollution, combat climate change, fight Covid-19, create middle class jobs, and build back better by supporting a sustainable economic recovery for everyone,” Trudeau said in a statement.
The Keystone XL project was rejected by former President Barack Obama in 2015.
Former President Donald Trump reversed the decision in 2017 and granted a presidential permit to build the pipeline.
Following his inauguration earlier on Wednesday, Biden signed 17 executive orders, which included US to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The first order Biden signed was for the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. It mandated the wearing of masks and observance of social distancing on federal government politics and on planes, trains and buses travelling between states.
Taking up immigration issues, Biden gave protection and work permits to those who came in as children and are in the country illegally. It would not help those who came in legally and stayed legal like the children of those on H1-B visas who can be deported when they become adults.
He issued another order ending the construction of the wall on the Mexican border that Trump had ordered to deter illegal immigration.
He was also sending to Congress an immigration bill that would give legal status to about 11 million people who are in the country legally and eventually citizenship.