Alberta may offer more to smooth way for Keystone: envoy

Mon Feb 4, 2013 7:20pm EST
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By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Alberta could offer up new environmental initiatives for oil sands development to show the Obama administration that approving a $5.3 billion pipeline to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries will not increase pollution, the Canadian province's new envoy in Washington said on Monday.

Alberta, anxious to tap new markets in the United States for its growing volumes of oil, has already boosted monitoring of the impacts of tar sands projects on northern waterways. It also has established a land-use plan for the region to protect some areas, said David Manning, appointed by Premier Alison Redford last week as the province's envoy in Washington.

"We have much more in our toolbox, and I think this is all about transparency and sharing information, and I'm just going to be one piece of that," Manning told Reuters in an interview from Edmonton, where he was being briefed in advance of traveling to Washington next week.

Manning said he expects much of his work to involve promoting pipelines that move Alberta energy supplies to market, initially TransCanada Corp's long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline.

He did not offer specific concessions that the province could make as it seeks to persuade the U.S. State Department that the contentious project makes economic and energy-security sense.

The department is in charge of vetting Keystone XL because it would cross the Canada-U.S. border.

New U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, as former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is well versed in Canadian and Alberta issues, said Manning, who was head of Canada's oil lobby in the 1990s.

"He's committed to sustainability and the environment, and so is the administration and so is Alberta," Manning said. "And the premier made it clear that she's anxious to engage in that conversation, and she will clearly lead that conversation. But to the extent that I can support it, I will."   Continued...