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Pipeline Disputes Put Biden in Awkward Spot

Copyright © 2021 Energy Intelligence Group

US President Joe Biden drew headlines in January when he nixed a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline project as one of his first energy-related policy actions. Since then, the Biden administration has largely stayed out of the major pipeline battles playing out across the country, most notably the closely watched and contentious Dakota Access (DAPL) and Line 5 disputes. Wading into specific fights over pipelines, especially over those that are already in operation, situates the administration awkwardly between its push to cut US carbon emissions by 50%-52% by 2030 and its efforts to ensure fossil fuel workers are not disproportionately impacted by the clean energy transition (OD Apr.23'21). The administration has been especially sensitive around the subject of climate policies that could impact -- or even have the perception of impacting -- jobs in the oil sector, especially amid extensive and expensive economic recovery efforts (NGW Mar.22'21). Canceling Keystone Biden’s decision to nix the permit for Keystone XL came with a metric ton of backlash from industry advocates, Republican lawmakers and Canadian officials who claimed the move would cost thousands of jobs, albeit many of them temporary (OD Feb.9'21). But Keystone XL was also not in operation, meaning the political stakes were not as high as they could be for pipelines that are already up and running, one industry lawyer notes. Moreover, the administration of former President Barack Obama had previously denied a permit for the project, before his successor, former President Donald Trump, reversed it. Keystone XL also had extremely high visibility among the public, making for easier political calculus than some of the other pipelines because it gave Biden a fairly low-stakes win with progressives. Disregarding Dakota

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Fri, Nov 26, 2021