By ALISTAIR MACDONALD AND TENNILLE TRACY
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper took his case for
approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to the United States,
burnishing Canada's environmental credentials and saying the
arguments for the project are "overwhelmingly on the side of
Speaking in New York, Mr. Harper repeated arguments his
deputies have made repeatedly in their own trips to Washington.
Ottawa says the project will reduce United States dependence on
oil from less stable and less friendly countries like
Venezuela, and create jobs on both sides of the border. But by
making the pitch himself, Mr. Harper dramatically ratcheted up
the level of government lobbying over the line, proposed by
Calgary based TransCanada.
"I think all the facts are overwhelmingly on the side of
approval of this, but there is a process in the United States,"
he said, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations.
He also took aim at critics who have said the line would
boost global greenhouse gas emissions. Environmentalists and
some prominent Democrats in the United States have said the project, which would boost exports
of Canadian crude to the United States, would heighten
America's dependence on fossil fuel, including heavy Canadian
oil sands crude. Oil sands production is generally more carbon
intensive than many blends of conventional oil, but is less
intensive than others.
Mr. Harper said building the line would add "almost nothing
globally" to carbon emissions. Meanwhile, he sought to portray
Canada as an environmentally conscious nation that is doing its
share to cap global emissions.
"Truth of the matter is, heavy oils out of the oil sands,
yes, there are still emission issues, but no more than other
places in the world," he said. Mr. Harper also said the United
States should not "turn up" its nose at the potential of 40,000
construction jobs, or the prospect
of being able to reduce its dependence from oil shipped in from
overseas by 40%.
Washington is currently deliberating whether to approve the
875 mile pipeline, envisioned to carry oil sands crude from
Alberta to Nebraska, for further shipment to refineries on the
The project has divided Washington and
featured prominently in the United States presidential election
last year. In Canada, Keystone is a crucial economic issue.
A lack of pipeline capacity has bottled up Canadian
supplies, triggering wildly volatile prices that have
threatened provincial and federal revenue and clouded future
investment in the Canadian oil sector.
The State Department is expected to finalize its
environmental review of the project in coming weeks. After
that, the department will seek input from federal agencies for
90 days and then determine whether the project serves the
national interest. Still, officials say there is no set
timetable for a final decision.
"The State Department continues to review the permit
application for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in a
rigorous, transparent, and efficient manner," a State
Department official said. "The State Department will make a
determination after we have thoroughly and transparently
considered all the issues."
Capitol Hill Republicans continue to pressure President
Barack Obama to deliver swift approval for Keystone. A GOP
controlled House transportation committee approved a bill that
would effectively push through approval for the project. The House Energy and
Commerce Committee approved a similar bill in April.
Dow Jones Newswires