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What will Alberta do after Biden pulls the plug on Keystone pipeline?

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U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will rescind the Keystone XL Pipeline permit as soon as he's sworn in on Wednesday, the CBC reports. Image credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

"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.

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 Alberta Premier 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 November 3, 2020.

What possessed 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, Kenney's wild bet has to be near the top of the most irresponsible things ever done in Alberta.

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 Notley isn't premier, is she? No it's 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 Kenney, really. Two years ago, the whole Canadian conservative movement was screaming the same scream.

Many in the oil patch 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 yesterday, 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 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, 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, 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 Kenney would do that!

Oh, wait

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions at The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald.

Image credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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