Sen. Joe Manchin III has reiterated his grievances with the Biden administration over a major energy project that the president canceled on his first day in office: the Keystone XL pipeline.
The West Virginia Democrat said the pipeline extension, which would have transported hundreds of thousands of barrels of Canadian oil into the U.S. each day, could help the world kick its dependence on Russian oil, echoing calls by Republicans.
“The XL pipeline is something we should’ve never abandoned,” Mr. Manchin told reporters Tuesday during a trip to Canada. “Now, we wish we had it.”
Mr. Manchin suggested that the XL pipeline, which is a contentious point of debate between Republicans and environmentalists, American Indian tribes and Democrats, could be “rebranded” or “rerouted.” He said the Biden administration would “be foolish not to” entertain the idea.
“Pipelines will carry it a lot safer, cleaner and more efficiently than the rail or by trucks. The cleanest way to transport it is by pipe, and that’s what we should do,” he said. “If we can basically build around the energy that we have, saving the planet, helping the climate by using the cleanest [energy], why shouldn’t we do it?”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The XL pipeline would have stretched from Canada to Nebraska, where it would have connected with a pipeline that extends to Gulf Coast refineries.
Keeping a campaign promise, Mr. Biden effectively scrapped the multibillion-dollar project with an executive order that revoked a key construction permit previously approved by former President Donald Trump. The project was more than a decade in the making and had faced legal challenges throughout its construction over environmental risks.
Mr. Manchin chastised the administration for “turning to everybody but us” for more oil to blunt high gas prices, such as Venezuela, Iran and the multinational Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which has said it will not be able to replace Russian oil supplies.
The administration wants to import more oil from Canada but is still opposed to a pipeline to transport it, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Manchin added the administration’s response has “rubbed me wrong. It did. I’ll be honest. And I’ve told them that.”
Canada accounted for roughly 60% of all U.S. crude oil imports in 2020, according to the Energy Information Administration. In terms of total petroleum imports, including crude oil, Canada accounted for 52% while Russia made up 7%.
Republicans and oil companies have used the canceled pipeline as an “I told you so” moment for part of the reason why energy prices have skyrocketed with inflation and the Russia-Ukraine war. They also noted it would have created jobs and argued that it would have increased America’s energy security.
However, energy experts and industry insiders have questioned what its impact would have been because it was an infrastructure project that would have only transported existing supply and not increased production. The pipeline was also not expected to begin carrying oil until next year.
• Ramsey Touchberry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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