President Biden rejected a top-ranked supplier on the global environment, social and governance (ESG) investment scale by blocking TC Energy Inc.’s Keystone XL oil export pipeline project, according to the Alberta provincial government.

keystone route

“Based on aggregated…performance from the Yale Environmental Performance Index, Social Progress Index, and World Bank Governance Index, Canada is third behind Norway and Denmark in ESG,” said the amicus brief filed by the province.

“This rating is a direct reflection of the importance that Canada, Alberta, and their oil producers place on improving environmental performance and governance, investment in technology and innovation, and open and strong stakeholder and Indigenous relations.”

TC in July revived a five-year-old trade damages claim topping $15 billion against the U.S. government for refusing to let the oil export project have a construction permit.

Alberta in its brief cited the Canadian ESG score in a 30-page filing in Houston with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The brief supports a lawsuit to overturn the Biden administration’s veto in January of the pipeline system, joining a lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of 23 GOP-led states.

“As the world moves to a greener economy, Canada should be the supplier of choice,” according to Alberta. The aborted $8 billion pipeline would have moved 830,000 b/d into U.S. markets.

“Without responsibly produced Canadian oil and reliable and safe energy infrastructure” like the Keystone XL system, “the world, including the United States, will have to rely on countries that do not share these environmental and social values, commitments, and achievements,” the province noted in its brief.

Alberta noted that when President Biden in January revoked the 2019 approval, he did not end a commitment to Canada made by the former Trump administration.

“The recent United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement emphasizes the Canada-U.S. energy trade relationship and each country’s respective commitment to energy cooperation,” the Alberta government said.

“Specifically, Canada and the United States have agreed to recognize the importance of enhancing the integration of North American energy markets, including open trade, and to support North American energy competitiveness, security, and independence.” The pipeline “is vital to achieving these principles.”

The Alberta government stopped short of predicting that TC Energy would revive the 13-year-old project. TC declined to comment.

However, Alberta warned in its filing that all potential projects to increase Canadian energy trade with the United States would be jeopardized if the court upholds the veto without hearings or other administrative or judicial processes.

“There will remain substantial uncertainty over the viability of any new presidential permit that President Biden or a future United States president may issue for future cross-border pipelines,” the Alberta government said.

“This same unchecked power could be invoked to unilaterally terminate, without process or warning, any future presidential permit. This uncertainty would caution against future investment” in Keystone “or any other cross-border pipeline.”

Overturning the veto would give the project another chance, the Alberta brief noted. 

“A decision finding that President Biden unlawfully revoked the…presidential permit would provide reasonable assurance that such permits cannot be unilaterally and arbitrarily revoked, and would support project financing” and the system’s “ultimate construction.”