Canada has acted on climate as Keystone waits: envoy

Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:15pm EST
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By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Canada has taken action to protect the climate during the more than four years it has waited for U.S. approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and there's little more it can do in the short term, the country's ambassador to the United States said.

As the U.S. State Department delays approval of TransCanada Corp's Keystone pipeline, which would link Alberta's oil sands to refineries and ports in Texas, speculation has emerged that Canada could take further action on the climate to help make it easier for the United States to approve the project.

Gary Doer, Canadian ambassador to the United States, told Reuters in an interview his country has taken various steps on climate, including helping to hash out an international deal with Obama in Copenhagen in 2009, aligning with Washington on car emissions limits in 2010, and working with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012 on reducing black carbon emissions in the Arctic.

When asked if Canada can do more to help sweeten the pot for Keystone, Doer said, "We're not interested in gimmicks, we're interested in real action, both on energy security in North America and in reducing greenhouse gases."

He said substantial action on climate takes time, citing new Canadian rules on coal that took 18 months to develop.

Doer said he had no information about when the State Department would release an environmental assessment on the line, the next step it must take before a final decision is expected around the middle of the year. But his instinct was it could come within a month.

The pipeline splits important factions of U.S. President Barack Obama's base. Many environmentalists oppose the project because oil sands are carbon intensive to produce, while labor leaders support the pipeline for the jobs it would bring to states along its path.

Doer took issue with environmentalists who say the Keystone pipeline, approval of which has been pending for 4-1/2 years, would boost emissions.   Continued...

Canada's ambassador-designate to the U.S. Gary Doer speaks to journalists in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa August 28, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie