TransCanada Corporation will seek US$15 billion in costs and damages under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) after U.S. President Barack Obama decided last year to deny a construction permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
“TransCanada has been unjustly deprived of the value of its multi-billion-dollar investment by the U.S. administration’s action,” the company said Wednesday. “TransCanada asserts the U.S. administration’s decision to deny a presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline was arbitrary and unjustified.”
Reaction to the announcement was swift, with climate hawks, landowners, and Indigenous groups declaring it a mix of a temper tantrum and bullying.
“The idea that some trade agreement should force us to overheat the planet’s atmosphere is, quite simply, insane,” said 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben. “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.”
“TransCanada bullies landowners, they bully the states, and now they bully the federal government,” said South Dakota landowner Paul Seamans
Dallas Goldtooth of the Minnesota-based Indigenous Environmental Network called the NAFTA challenge an act of desperation. “TransCanada has already lost the battle to get this dirty tar sands pipeline built,” he said. “It is merely a desperate measure to have U.S. taxpayers pick up the tab on their failed investment.”
TransCanada also filed suit in U.S. Federal Court, claiming Obama’s decision exceeded his constitutional authority. “The denial reflected an unprecedented exercise of presidential power and intruded on Congress’s power under the constitution to regulate interstate and international commerce,” the company said.