Fact Check-U.S. has long supported natural gas pipeline in Afghanistan, predating Keystone XL cancellation

A claim that President Joe Biden is pushing for an oil pipeline deal with the Taliban after scrapping the Keystone XL pipeline project has whipped around social media, stoking anger toward Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. The “Taliban pipeline deal” appears to refer to a project known as TAPI that is supposed to move natural gas through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The claim lacks context.

Biden has not explicitly advocated for the TAPI pipeline as president. The U.S. government has backed the idea for three decades, but it does not have influence on the pipeline’s eventual construction, as it did with Keystone. It has not contributed any money and is not a party to the deal. The project is not related to Keystone.


Examples of the post are here , here , and here .

The post’s author says Biden and Vice President Harris are “pushing for pipeline jobs overseas” and calls them traitors. Commenters on the post call them “absolutely crooked people” who are working “to weaken America.”

When he first entered office in January, Biden revoked a permit for the Keystone pipeline, which would transport 830,000 barrels a day of heavy crude oil from Canada's Alberta to Nebraska, as part of a series of executive orders aimed at curbing climate change. Leaders in energy-producing states such as Texas and West Virginia are fighting his decision, saying, in part, Keystone would have created jobs ( here , here ).

The Keystone pipeline was unrelated to TAPI.

The two projects were only linked when a former Pentagon official and frequent Biden critic Michael Rubin wrote in a Washington Examiner opinion piece after the Keystone permit was revoked that “Biden is promoting a pipeline to enrich both one of the world’s worst dictatorships and a group responsible for thousands of U.S. deaths.” (here)

There is no evidence that Biden has ever spoken about such a pipeline as president or personally promoted the deal. His comments related to the Taliban, a militant group that once ruled Afghanistan, have focused on stationing U.S. troops in Afghanistan (here , here ).

Meanwhile, the government is not pushing a pipeline for the Taliban or directly supporting the TAPI project, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said. In an email to Reuters they said: “The United States played no role in the Taliban’s visit to Turkmenistan in February and is in no position to comment on those discussions. The U.S. Government is not providing any direct financial support to the TAPI project.”

The TAPI pipeline was first proposed 30 years ago, and the Taliban, which controlled Afghanistan in the 1990s, was part of the negotiations. Construction was delayed by political instability and then by the war that followed the U.S. 2001 invasion, which drove the Taliban from power. In 2018 surveying for the TAPI pipeline started in hope that construction would begin soon. The Afghan government and Taliban are negotiating a peace deal (here , here , here ).

Under both Republican and Democratic leadership, the United States has viewed the TAPI pipeline as a potential key to economic strength and independence for Central Asia.

In October 2020, when Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump was in office, the United States hosted its first trilateral meeting with Afghanistan and Turkmenistan where the countries agreed to “Work together to identify and implement infrastructure projects, including projects for the sharing of energy resources such as the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) power project and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project.” (here, here , here )

According to the State Department spokesperson: “The United States has long supported efforts by Afghanistan and its Central Asian neighbors to strengthen their connectivity, increase trade, boost economic coordination, and improve regional transportation infrastructure, including energy infrastructure – in part to make Afghanistan more self-sufficient. Our priority in Afghanistan is a just and durable peace, and we recognize that peace and economic development are mutually reinforcing.”


Missing context. The U.S. government has supported the creation of a natural gas pipeline in Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan and India for 30 years.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .