CALGARY, Alberta, June 30 (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp said on Tuesday that tightening climate-change rules from the governments of Canada and the province of Alberta help justify the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project.
The company, Canada's No.2 pipeline operator, released a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other department officials saying that increased carbon levies for Alberta oil sands producers and new Canadian targets for greenhouse-gas emission cuts should serve to help assuage U.S. concerns that approving the C$8 billion ($6.41 billion) project would increase climate change.
TransCanada has waited more than six years for the Obama administration to make a decision on whether it would allow the embattled project to proceed, frustrating Canadian oil producers and governments eager to see the country's oil reach the high-paying refinery hub on Texas' gulf coast.
However, Obama has said he will only permit the project, bitterly opposed by environmental groups in both the U.S. and Canada, when he is certain it will not significantly exacerbate climate change.
In the letter, Kristin Delkus, TransCanada's general counsel, said there have been significant new developments in Canadian carbon policies since Obama announced the policy. Delkus highlighted Canada's new targets to cut greenhouse-gas emissions to 70 percent of 2005 levels by 2030.
Along with noting other policy changes, Delkus also highlighted new emissions rules in the province of Alberta, whose carbon-intensive oil sands are the largest single source of U.S. crude imports.
Alberta is doubling the cost of excess carbon emissions to C$30 ($24) per tonne by 2017 as it studies additional measures to cut output of greenhouse gases.
"Any decision on the pending Presidential Permit application should take all of these factors and developments into account," Delkus said.
The Keystone XL project would take 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska, where it will join the project's existing southern leg to the Texas coast.
The State Department could be immediately reached for comment. ($1 = 1.2486 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Scott Haggett; Editing by Alan Crosby)