President Joe Biden speaks to the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, Canada, Friday, Mach 24, 2023. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)

It turns out math is hard, too

In the joint press conference held by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and American President Joe Biden in Ottawa on March 24, the last question posed came from a Canadian Press reporter who challenged Biden on his administration’s hypocrisy for killing the Keystone XL pipeline but recently allowing the Willow Project in Alaska. Killing the Keystone XL was among Biden’s very first acts after being inaugurated. He literally left the Capitol Building, went straight to the White House, and signed the executive order killing Keystone XL, before any other order of business, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,  or attending any of the inauguration balls. It was one of 17 executive orders he signed that day.

President Joe Biden signs one of the 17 Executive Orders he signed on Inauguration Day Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)


Editor’s Note: Biden appears to have made a factual error in his statements. The Willow project is expected to produce 180,000 barrels of oil per day. In January, 2023, the International Energy Agency reported that “Global oil demand is set to rise by 1.9 million bpd in 2023, to a record 101.7 million bpd.” That means one per cent of global oil production would be just a little over one million barrels per day. But 180,000 bpd would account for about 1.5 per cent of U.S. oil production.   

Canadian Press reporter: Mr. President. When you took office, you cancelled the Keystone XL Pipeline. This week your government delayed the environmental assessment to reroute Enbridge Line 5, and at the same time you’re approving oil drilling in Alaska. So what’s your response to people who say it’s hypocritical to stymie Canadian energy projects while allowing your own?

President Joe Biden: First of all, I don’t think it is, but I’ll be very brief.

The difficult decision was on what we do with the Willow Project in Alaska, and my strong inclination was to disapprove of it across the board.  But the advice I got from counsel was that if that were the case, we may very well lose in court — lose that case in court to the oil company — and then not be able to do what I really want to do beyond that, and that is conserve significant amounts of Alaskan sea and land forever.

I was able to see to it that we are literally able to conserve millions of acres, not a — not a few — millions of acres of sea and land forever so it cannot be used in the future.

I am banking on — we’ll find out — that the oil company is going to say not — that’s not going to be challenged, and they’re going to go with thr- — with three sites.  And the energy that is going to be produced they’re estimating wou- — would account to 1 percent — 1 percent of the total production of oil in the world.

And so I thought it was a good — a — the better gamble and a hell of a tradeoff to have the Arctic Ocean and the Bering Sea and so many other places off limits forever now.

I think we put more land in conservation than any administration since Teddy Roosevelt.  I’m not positive of that, but I think that’s true.

You can watch the exchange in this video posted on Justin Trudeau’s Twitter account. Go to the 40:00 time mark. You can read the transcript of the entire press conference here.

In 2016, Pipeline Online editor Brian Zinchuk was the Canadian reporter in 2016 who asked presidential candidate Donald Trump if he would approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. He said he would, but “he wanted a piece.”

And once elected, he approved the Keystone XL Pipeline within his first week in office.


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