Pressure builds on Keystone pipeline decision after Obama speech

Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:10pm EST
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* Environmentalists protest in front of White House

* Oil and gas lobby plans national advertising campaign

By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Environmentalists and industry groups ramped up efforts on Wednesday to try to sway the White House's decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, a day after U.S. President Barack Obama said he will take action to curb climate-warming emissions.

A small group of activists and celebrities staged a protest in front of the White House to put pressure on Obama to reject the proposed crude oil pipeline. The action came ahead of a rally planned for Sunday on Washington's National Mall, which organizers have dubbed "the largest climate rally in history".

The TransCanada Corp pipeline would link the oil sands of northern Alberta, the world's third largest crude resource, to refineries and ports in Texas. TransCanada has been waiting for approval for 4-1/2 years.

Environmentalists say approval of the pipeline will encourage more development in the oil sands, where extraction is carbon intensive, leading to greater greenhouse gas emissions.

The State Department in the coming days is due to issue a new environmental impact statement on the project, which is expected to guide the White House as it decides whether to give the project the go-ahead.

Canada's Natural Resources Minister said on Wednesday he was cautiously optimistic that Washington would approve the pipeline.   Continued...