A Smooth Start — Except With Canada
Author: Greg Valliere
January 21, 2021
IT WAS A REMARKABLY SMOOTH Inauguration Day: No violence, no snags, a well-delivered speech. Calls for unity were aspirational, of course, but there was a clear sense that the temperature will be lowered.
ONLY ONE SURPRISE FROM JOE BIDEN: It may take a while to get used to the new president’s style — he telegraphs action and usually doesn’t blind-side anyone; he issued executive orders last night that were largely expected. But the timing of one raised eyebrow.
THE NEW ADMINISTRATION HAS ITS FIRST CONTROVERSY — with Canada, of all countries, over oil pipelines. There’s disappointment in Ottawa and energy-centric Alberta that the Keystone Pipeline has been killed by the U.S. without any discussions — or, apparently, without a heads-up.
IN A CLEAR ATTEMPT TO SMOOTH RUFFLED FEATHERS, Biden’s first phone call as president to a foreign leader will be on Friday with Justin Trudeau. The Canadian Prime Minister, who is considering a snap election this year, now faces an uproar in Alberta, where Premier Jason Kenney blasted the U.S. move; his government has an equity stake in the Keystone project.
THE PIPELINE WOULD HAVE TRANSPORTED about 800,000 barrels a day of oil from Alberta to Nebraska to the Gulf Coast. It has been fiercely opposed by U.S. environmental activists and — several years ago — the Obama Administration, which led to a chill between the two countries. Donald Trump never had much chemistry with Trudeau, but at least they agreed on the pipeline.
TRUDEAU, WHO SUPPORTS THE PIPELINE, discussed it with Biden a few days after the U.S. election, and there may have been an understanding to discuss it further in early 2021. But Biden decided to act quickly this week; Trudeau called the U.S. move “disappointing.”
AND THERE’S ANOTHER CONTROVERSY — over the Line 5 pipeline that transports oil from Alberta to the U.S. via a pipeline that runs underground in Wisconsin and Michigan. The latter state wants to close it — still another dispute for Trudeau and Biden to discuss tomorrow.
THIS IS PART OF BIGGER STORY — the deep antipathy throughout the Biden Administration toward fossil fuels (and support for the Paris climate accord). The long-term goal is to eliminate the use of oil, as Biden candidly acknowledged in the final presidential debate. He was criticized for that assertion, but he never fully retracted it.
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