Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Keystone XL's Backers Fight Back against Pipeline's Detractors, Urge Approval

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Keystone XL's Backers Fight Back against Pipeline's Detractors, Urge Approval

Article excerpt

Keystone proponents fight back, argue for OK

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WASHINGTON - Two days after thousands amassed in the U.S. capital to protest TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, the project's proponents gathered Tuesday to extol its virtues and accuse its foes of playing fast and loose with the facts.

Alex Pourbaix, a top TransCanada executive, forcefully disputed the key charge levelled by environmentalists against the pipeline, which would carry bitumen from Alberta's carbon-intensive oilsands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

"You could shut down oilsands production tomorrow, and it would have absolutely no measurable impact on climate change," he said at a roundtable in D.C. hosted by the National Association of Manufacturers.

"The oilsands and their greenhouse gas emissions impact have been overstated."

While environmental activists claim the oilsands are a "carbon bomb" that spew massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the Earth's atmosphere, Pourbaix said the emissions are in fact "globally immaterial."

The contrast between Tuesday's roundtable and Sunday's protest was striking, despite efforts by Keystone proponents to fight back in the face of a rejuvenated anti-pipeline campaign by U.S. environmentalists following President Barack Obama's recent calls for swift action on climate change.

A sea of placard-waving activists, citizens of all ages and Hollywood celebrities gleefully came together on the National Mall on Sunday to demand the pipeline's rejection. Two days later, a panel of sombre, suit-and-tie-clad business executives demanded precisely the opposite in a quiet conference room to a small group of assembled media.

Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said most Americans support the construction of the pipeline.

"If you want to know why Americans are frustrated with Washington, you only need to look at the Keystone project and the inexcusable bureaucracy and red tape," he said.

"In the State of the Union address and on the campaign trail, President Obama spoke a great deal about economic recovery and an 'all-of-the-above' energy policy. It's beyond time for those words to be met with action. In a struggling economy, we must not pass up clear opportunities to create jobs and jump-start growth."

The pipeline "has been held up for far too long," he added. "We need approval immediately."

Pourbaix said TransCanada "completely agrees" with Obama's recent proclamations on the need for quick action on climate change.

"But a complete transition away from carbon fuel is going to take decades.... the U.S. will be reliant on oil for decades," he said.

"So it's really a question of where the U.S. wants its oil to come from -- does the U.S. want its oil from a friendly neighbour in Canada and domestic sources like the Bakken play, or does it want to continue to import higher-priced foreign oil from nations that do not support U. …

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