U.S. Senator Manchin calls for closer energy relationship between Canada and U.S.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, after touring Alberta's oilsands this week, is calling on his colleagues in Washington D.C. to work more closely with Canada in improving continental energy security.

American Democrat invites Alberta premier to Washington D.C. to testify before U.S. Senate committee on energy

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, left, and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin speak to reporters on Tuesday following the senator's tour of oilsands facilities in the province and discussions about continental energy security. (CBC)

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, after touring Alberta's oilsands this week, says America and Canada should be working more closely together to improve continental energy security.

The West Virginia Democrat also wants Premier Jason Kenney to testify before U.S. Senate committee on energy and natural resources about what the two countries can achieve jointly.

"We're all one. It's North America. And North America could be the energy leaders of the world, it really could be," Manchin told reporters on Tuesday.

Kenney agreed with Manchin, adding the two share a vision of a future North American energy alliance. However, neither politician provided details on what that would mean or how that might work.

An oil pumpjack operates beneath the aurora borealis just north of Calgary in this file photo. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin is in Alberta this week to learn about the province's energy sector. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

The premier said Russia's invasion of Ukraine underscores the need for Canada and the U.S. to work together to displace the world's growing dependance on "dictator oil from some of the world's worst regimes."

"The senator and I have had discussions about how we can work together more closely and certainly raise the profile in Washington D.C. about the critical role that Alberta and Canada play in U.S. energy security," Kenney said.

Manchin, chair of the U.S. Senate committee on energy and natural resources, was in Alberta at Kenney's invitation.

The premier has been pressing the discussion about North American energy security with U.S. politicians, saying their country should be getting more of its oil from Canada, rather than Venezuela or Saudi Arabia. 

Canada is the top supplier of oil to the United States.

Manchin and Kenney believe carbon capture and storage projects will be key to energy in the future. This is a photo of Shell's Quest Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) facility in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

Manchin said Tuesday that borders between the countries "should be invisible" when it comes to energy and the climate. He is a proponent of an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy that foresees continued use of fossil fuels while also aiming to reduce carbon emissions. His support for fossil fuels has drawn scorn from environmentalists.

While Manchin had a lot to say about the two countries could accomplish together, he was more circumspect in his comments about the cancelled Keystone XL pipeline, for which he's been an outspoken supporter. 

He said that the Alberta-to-Nebraska pipeline project should have never been "abandoned" but he also said that reviving it didn't come up in discussions with Kenney because "it's a sore point … for both sides."

Manchin said he's unsure whether there's a possibility the project could be resurrected, but added it would be foolish if it wasn't.

Amid concerns about the impact the project would have on climate and the environment, U.S. President Joe Biden pulled a critical permit for the pipeline. The move led to TC Energy's decision to cancel the project last year. The company is seeking $15 billion from the U.S. government for the cost of cancelling the pipeline. 

Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the decision on the pipeline's fate lies with the U.S.

Manchin is viewed as an important swing vote and someone who is not afraid to upset Biden's agenda.

That's why James Coleman, an energy law professor at Southern Methodist University in Texas, said his presence in Alberta could be significant. 

In this photo from 2020, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb. Manchin has been a big backer of the project but didn't have much to say about it on Tuesday. (Chris Machian/Omaha World-Herald via Associated Press)

"If there was one person that was most powerful in terms of determining what kind of legislation will be passed in the United States, it's hard to do better than Sen. Manchin," Coleman said.

But the Alberta NDP's energy critic, Kathleen Ganley, said the UCP's photo op with the senator changes nothing.

"It did nothing to expand market access or get Albertans back to work," Ganley said in a statement.

She added the UCP has failed to build the relationships with the U.S. decision-makers that province needs.

With files from Tony Seskus, Elise von Scheel and The Canadian Press


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?