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Biden Gambles on Keystone Pledge

Presidential hopeful Joe Biden continues to step on his own feet as the country heads toward the November election. This time around, Biden’s need to pick up voters has helped alienate the candidate from one of the United States’ most prominent partners as well as millions of working-class voters.

A Soft Stance on the Environment

Back when Joe Biden had some competition in the race for the Democratic nomination, the veteran politician remained quiet on his plans for the environment. Even as now-defunct candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders openly declared that they would end fracking on the first day of their presidency, Biden refused to take a stance.

His reticence earned him critics on both sides of the aisle, but his silence was enough to keep him in the race. On Tuesday, however, Biden broke his silence on the climate. Unfortunately for the embattled candidate, his comments immediately struck a divisive chord. 

Down With Keystone XL

In his quest to unseat Donald Trump as the President of the United States, Biden has taken to adopting the philosophies of former President Barack Obama. In November of 2015, President Obama made a very controversial statement in which he decried the development of the Keystone XL pipeline, an oil pipeline designed to carry massive amounts of oil across the United States and Canada.

Though commissioned in 2010, the Keystone XL pipeline remains mired in red tape. In 2015, Obama declared, “America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action on climate change, [and, frankly,] approving that project would have undercut that global leadership, and that is the biggest risk we face: not acting.”

On May 18, Biden’s campaign policy director followed in Obama’s footsteps when she proclaimed, “Stopping Keystone was the right decision then and it’s still the right decision now.”

The International Reaction

Biden’s toeing of the company line has already caused ruffles throughout Canada, one of the United States’ closest economic partners. In response to the statement, Canadian government officials called the whole proclamation a bluff. 

As Alberta Premier Jason Kenney put it, “I cannot imagine that a U.S. president eight months from now, nine months from now, would require that thousands of miles of pipe be pulled out of the ground by the union workers who are now employed creating that project.”

In short, putting the kibosh on Keystone XL could jeopardize both the United States’ economic relationship with Canada and throw the economy into an even deeper tailspin than the one we’re currently experiencing. 

The Slow Build

Some of Biden’s political opponents point out that the candidate remained conspicuously quiet about the environment during the primaries. They indicate that this was not Biden staying silent on a subject about which he is passionate, rather that that now Biden is speaking up about a hot-button issue that could win him more voters. Even still, his call to kill the pipeline has the reek of a safe political gesture.

For the moment, the Keystone XL pipeline is making slow, steady progress. Just three days after Biden pledged to kill the pipeline, the first pieces of Keystone XL were placed across the U.S.-Canada border. 

Even in the face of staunch opposition, the Keystone XL pipeline continues to inch forward on the promise of economic stability.

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