Biden Promises No New Pipelines

Every federal infrastructure investment should reduce climate pollution, and require any federal permitting decision to consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.


The statements above are an indication that Biden would make it difficult for developers to obtain federal permits to build fossil fuel infrastructure such as pipelines, forcing them to use more expensive, less safe and more environmentally hazardous surface transportation, which has already been permitted. It also calls into questions new infrastructure investments such as airports, highways, bridges, and other transportation assets. 

To slow the permitting process, Biden could require onerous and lengthy reviews to evaluate whether a project’s economic impact is outweighed by its potential emissions impact, i.e., he could make the process so burdensome and expensive for pipeline developers that they cancel the project. A spokeswoman for a group supporting Biden’s candidacy, for example, recently said this about a cancelled New Hampshire gas pipeline: “Prevent new infrastructure from being built is a win in itself.” This approach should be contrasted with China’s plan. China recently formed a $56 billion conglomerate to build and operate the country’s growing natural gas pipeline system.

As proof of Biden’s intentions, he has committed to rescinding President Trump’s permit allowing the Keystone XL oil pipeline to cross the Canadian border into the United States. This is despite the fact that moving oil by pipeline produces 42 percent fewer emissions than transporting oil by rail, which is how the oil is being transported in lieu of Keystone XL. Since 2008, the use of rail to ship oil had increased by a factor of 50, adding $5 to $10 per barrel in additional cost and greater environmental and safety risks. 

*This article was adapted from content originally published by the Institute for Energy Research.

For more information on these issues check out AEA’s Vote Energy 2020 election hub.

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