Harper begs Obama for Keystone XL approval

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent a letter to US President Barack Obama pushing for the Keystone XL pipeline's approval, proposing "joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector" if necessary, the CBC reported.

The letter indicates that Canada could make concessions to get President Obama to approve the massive pipeline project, which would transport bitumen from Alberta's oil sands to refineries in Texas. 

It's a considerable change in tone, considering that Harper said during his visit to New York in May that he considered oil sands pollution to be "almost nothing, globally" and that the “only real immediate environmental issue" is whether to increase the flow of oil from Canada via pipeline or via rail.

At the time, he noted that if the pipeline option is rejected, Canada will simply end up transporting the oil via rail, which poses more environmental challenges. He also noted that if the U.S. didn't act soon, the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline may carry Canada's oil to Asian markets first. 

Obama is in a difficult position on Keystone XL, with heavy pressure from both oil companies and climate advocates such as billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer, who said in May that donors would "flee"  if Obama approved the pipeline. 

Obama told the New York Times recently that proponents of the pipeline are overstating the jobs it will create for Americans. 

"Our national interest will be served," the U.S. President said in June, "only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline's impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward."

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