One of U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik’s first congressional votes in 2015 was to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
On Thursday, she staunchly opposed President Joe Biden’s executive order to stop construction of the project, calling the order “irresponsible” and “job-killing.”
The pipeline is an addition to an existing pipeline system transporting hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil from Canadian tar sands to American refineries. This addition would create a shortcut for the oil and feature a wider-diameter pipe to allow for more oil to flow.
In a Thursday statement, Stefanik said Biden’s day-one executive order halting construction hurts workers and the country’s energy security.
“It is appalling that one of President Biden’s first actions, after repeatedly calling for unity, is to kill tens of thousands of American jobs during an economic crisis,” Stefanik wrote. “This devastating move not only hurts the American worker and hampers our energy security, but it is also strongly opposed by our northern neighbor Canada — a vital ally and economic partner.”
Biden said the pipeline does “not serve the U.S. national interest,” his reason for blocking it. He has proposed a move away from fossil fuels, such as the tar sand oil the pipeline would carry, as they contribute to climate change.
In 2017 then-President Donald Trump signed a presidential permit for the project. The Biden order reversed this. Legally, there are not many options for the pipeline owner, TC Energy, and it announced that same day that it was eliminating more than 1,000 temporary construction jobs as a result.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has supported the Keystone XL pipeline project. Last week, on a call between him and Biden, Trudeau voiced disappointment with the stop order.
Stefanik’s position on environmental issues have often been stronger than many of her GOP peers in Congress, but she has stated that she believes actions to combat climate change “should not constrain the United States economy.”
Stefanik did not respond to a question asking if this pipeline construction halt is one such action.
Stefanik was asked about environmental concerns over the pipeline, including increased fossil fuel transportation and production and possible leaks and spills that could corrupt the waters, land and wildlife of U.S. residents and First Nations people’s land it travels through. Other portions of the pipeline have had substantial leaks in recent years.
Stefanik also declined to answer these questions.
She said in a statement that the Keystone XL pipeline has “bipartisan support ... reduces energy costs, creates thousands of jobs, increases America’s economic competitiveness and enhances our energy independence.”
Biden’s order is not the end of the fight over this pipeline, however.
U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana, said last week he plans to introduce a bill authorizing the pipeline construction through Congress, overriding Biden’s executive order. Stefanik did not respond to an email asking if she would support this hypothetical bill or a similar bill if one was introduced in the House.
Stefanik has not received political donations from TC Energy itself.
Since her first run for Congress in 2013, Stefanik has received $412,000 from the energy and natural resource sector, split around 60% and 40% between political action committees and individuals, respectively.