Will The Canadian Election End The Keystone XL Pipeline?

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Justin Trudeau is Canada’s new prime minister after leading the Liberal Party to a majority government win — which bodes ill for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Trudeau’s victory ends the decade-long rule of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper who supports Keystone XL. If approved by the Obama administration, Keystone will send oil sands from Alberta to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Trudeau supports Keystone XL, but the newly elected prime minister’s support may fold under pressure from the White House.

President Barack Obama claims environmental and global warming concerns are keeping him from approving the project — even though the Department of State concluded the pipeline won’t increase greenhouse gas emissions and will reduce oil spill risks. The State Department also noted Keystone XL will create more than 42,000 new jobs.

Despite the State Department’s findings, Obama vetoed legislation earlier this year to approve Keystone XL. Obama’s critics say he was pressured by environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer to veto the project. Steyer spent $73 million in the 2014 election supporting Democratic candidates.

Trudeau may be pro-Keystone, but he’s more concerned with having good relations with the U.S. than an oil pipeline. Trudeau believes good relations with the U.S. should not hinge on Keystone’s approval. It’s unlikely Trudeau will openly criticize Obama over Keystone like Harper was keen to do. In fact, Trudeau’s Liberal Party is rabidly anti-Keystone.

The Liberal Party’s campaign co-chair recently resigned after a memo he wrote was leaked to the press detailing how TransCanada, the company looking to build Keystone, could effectively lobby a Liberal Canadian government.

On the other hand, Trudeau also promised to give individual provinces greater power on environmental policy, making it likely the provinces that will benefit from Keystone XL will keep lobbying the government for its approval.

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