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Temur Durrani

Multi-Platform Writer


Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said U.S. President Joe Biden should stop his "neutrality” on Enbridge Inc.’s Line 5 pipeline project, which has become a lightning rod for controversy as Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer wages a legal battle to shut it down.

In a wide-ranging interview Friday from Washington, D.C, where Kenney is attending the annual National Governors Association meeting, he spoke of the many ways in which the Biden administration has created “impediments” to Alberta’s plans for energy exports.

Kenney said he’s still angered by Biden’s decision to effectively kill TC Energy Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline, which the U.S. president issued an executive order against on his first day in office on Jan. 20, 2021 — making good on a campaign promise. That move invited a lawsuit from 21 American states that said they would be economically hurt by Biden’s decision. Meanwhile, TC Energy is seeking to recover more than US$15 billion in damages in a claim launched under the North American Free Trade Agreement dispute resolution process.

Now, however, Kenney is particularly frustrated by Michigan’s “efforts to decommission” the underwater Line 5 pipeline in Michigan, which supplies approximately 55 per cent of that state’s propane, according to Enbridge.

As of last week, Enbridge and the state of Michigan renewed a court battle over the pipeline, which is back on the dockets for the U.S. federal district system. The state had abandoned its case in November — which argued for the pipeline to be shut down due to its environmental impacts — after a district judge approved for it to be moved to federal court.

Enbridge has yet to file a response to the state's latest brief, but the company has repeatedly indicated it has no plans to voluntarily shut down Line 5 and will continue to fight in court to keep it running. Enbridge has argued that the case be heard by a federal judge because it comprises an important foreign policy question.

“We’d like to say to the Biden administration, that while you’re begging OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) to increase production and shipments, why aren’t you talking to the governor of Michigan about stopping the efforts to interrupt that pipeline?” Kenney said in an interview Friday.

“The U.S. government should stop its neutrality on Line 5 and come down on the side of U.S. energy security,” he said. “That project has been safely operating for six decades in the Straits of Mackinac. It is the major source of energy for Michigan, the Ohio refineries, the Detroit airport, and the southern Ontario and southern Quebec economies.”

Kenney said Alberta is the single largest source of energy imports for the U.S. The province alone is “far more important to American energy security, and in that sense to the American economy, than all of the other OPEC countries combined,” he added.

Asked about Alberta’s desire and capacity to provide energy to the world, which has been stymied by a lack of pipeline infrastructure to Canada’s east coast, Kenney said the Prairie province would be the “ideal solution to the problem of international energy security.” 

“Western Europe is increasingly getting tied to Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The U.S. administration lifting the sanctions effectively on Nord Stream 2 means that Germany and Western European countries will be more dependent on Russian energy. And I don't think that's good in a geopolitical sense,” he said. 

“We very much wish that we had more west-to-east energy infrastructure… and we’re always looking to strengthen alliances with governors and other top leaders about the importance of cooperating on energy security.”

With files from Canadian Press