Saskatchewan leader urges Obama to approve Keystone XL pipeline

Thu Jan 17, 2013 6:35pm EST
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By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The premier of Saskatchewan led 10 U.S. state governors on Thursday in urging President Barack Obama to approve TransCanada Corp's contentious and long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline, citing energy-security benefits in both countries.

Saskatchewan does not have the massive oil sands resources that neighboring Alberta does and which would move in large volumes to the southern United States in the proposed $5.3 billion conduit. But it does have some of the Bakken light oil reserves that would also be shipped.

"The energy relationship between the United States and Canada is vital to the future of both our countries. It is an interest we share, transcending political lines and geographic boundaries," Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said in a letter to Obama.

Wall pointed out that U.S. oil imports from Canada could reach 4 million barrels a day in seven years, twice the amount now imported from the Gulf region of the Middle East.

"The Keystone XL Pipeline could also provide the critical infrastructure required to transport growing U.S. domestic production from the Bakken shale region to market," Wall wrote.

The governors of Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming, all Republicans, were also signatories to the letter to Obama supporting the project, which would move more than 800,000 barrels of oil a day to southern Nebraska from Canada.

A decision by the State Department on whether to approve the pipeline is expected by the end of the first quarter, though some analysts expect that timing to slip.

TransCanada faces staunch opposition from environmentalists, who warn of the increased risk of oil spills. On Thursday, The Natural Resources Defense Council, Pembina Institute and others pressed their case in Washington by saying the project would foster increased oil sands development in Alberta and surging carbon emissions.   Continued...

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall looks on before speaking to the economic community in Toronto October 29, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch