TransCanada sues Obama over Keystone XL block

Tar sands company seeks US$15 billion damages for ‘arbitrary and unjustified’ decision to reject Canada-US oil pipeline

Thousands of activists protested against the Keystone XL pipeline (Pic: Flickr/cranberries)

Thousands of activists protested against the Keystone XL pipeline
(Pic: Flickr/cranberries)

By Megan Darby

TransCanada is suing the US government over its rejection of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The tar sands developer describes as “arbitrary and unjustified” President Barack Obama’s decision, arguing it breaches the North American Free Trade Agreement. It is seeking US$15 billion in costs and damages.

After sustained pressure from campaigners, President Obama blocked the proposed 1,179 mile pipeline across the US-Canada border last November, citing climate change concerns.

But the oil company argued in a statement released on Wednesday the president had “exceeded his power under the US constitution”.

Activist network 350 called the move “greedy and desperate”, saying it was too late to get the pipeline built now.

“The idea that some trade agreement should force us to overheat the planet’s atmosphere is, quite simply, insane,” co-founder Bill McKibben said.

“But the oil industry is so used to always winning that I fear this kind of tantrum is predictable. Corporate power is truly out of control.”

Earlier this week Jack Gerard, head of the American Petroleum Institute, an influential lobby group, said the Keystone rejection would embolden green groups in the US.

“The demonisation of the Keystone XL pipeline remains a powerful cautionary tale of the dangers of energy policy driven by ideology rather than economic reality and has a chilling effect on expansion efforts for our nation’s energy infrastructure,” he said.

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