Canada urges Biden not to cancel oil pipeline on first day

FILE - This Nov. 3, 2015 file photo shows the Keystone Steele City pumping station, into which the planned Keystone XL pipeline is to connect to, in Steele City, Neb. Pipeline sponsor TC Energy says it has started preliminary work along its route through the U.S. as opponents wait for a judge to rule on their request to block the project. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)
FILE - This Nov. 3, 2015 file photo shows the Keystone Steele City pumping station, into which the planned Keystone XL pipeline is to connect to, in Steele City, Neb. Pipeline sponsor TC Energy says it has started preliminary work along its route through the U.S. as opponents wait for a judge to rule on their request to block the project. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File) (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

TORONTO – Top officials in Canada want a chance to make the case for a long disputed oil pipeline to be built amid reports President-elect Joe Biden will cancel Keystone XL.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Monday he will seek legal damages if reports are true that Biden plans to scrap the pipeline on his first day upon taking office. Biden’s plan is outlined in transition documents seen by Canadian media outlets.

“We hope President-elect Biden will show respect for Canada and will sit down and at the very least talk to us,” Kenney said.

Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said Monday the transition team had no comment on the pipeline. A person familiar with the pipeline matter said Monday that the document cited by Canadian news media was a draft slide that was a few weeks old. Despite the timing suggested in the draft slide, everything on it “may not happen on day one,” the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record on the matter.

The 1,700-mile (2,735-kilometer) pipeline would carry roughly 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.

First proposed in 2008, the pipeline has become emblematic of the tensions between economic development and curbing the fossil fuel emissions that are causing climate change. The Obama administration rejected it, but President Donald Trump revived it and has been a strong supporter. Construction already started.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised Keystone XL as a top priority when he spoke with President-elect Biden in a phone call in November. The project is meant to expand critical oil exports for Canada, which has the third-largest oil reserves in the world.

Trudeau and Biden are close and largely politically aligned, but the pipeline is expected to be an early irritant as Biden has said he would cancel it.