Harper: Obama assures him Keystone verdict to be based on facts

Tue Oct 1, 2013 5:11pm EDT
 
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By John McCrank and Jonathan Spicer

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The logic behind the Keystone XL pipeline is "simply overwhelming," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday, adding that U.S. President Barack Obama had assured him his decision on the project would be based on facts.

Addressing a business audience in New York, Harper said he was optimistic that Obama would approve TransCanada Corp's pipeline from Canada to the United States.

"I remain an optimist that notwithstanding politics, that when something's so clearly in everybody's interests - including our interests as Canadians and the national interest of the United States - I'm of the view that it has to be approved," he said.

Referring to a broad pro-Keystone coalition grouping governments along the route, business and much of the labor movement that supports it, he said, "My view is that you don't take no for an answer."

Despite economic support, Obama has faced intense lobbying from environmental groups that argue the oil pipeline, which would run from Canada through the United States to the Gulf of Mexico, will aggravate climate change.

Harper said the project would create 40,000 jobs in the United States, a number parallel to the U.S. State Department's analysis in March that it would support 42,100 jobs.

The State report also said the project would not likely change the rate at which the Alberta oil sands are developed, another of the environmentalists' concerns.

"The State Department report on this is clear. The president has always assured me that he will make a decision that he believes is in the best interests of the United States based on the facts. And I think the facts are clear," he said.   Continued...

 
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks before a dinner hosted by the National Congress of Italian Canadians (NCIC) for Italy's Prime Minister Enrico Letta in Vaughan, Ontario September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Jon Blacker