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Harper begs Obama for Keystone XL approval

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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."

(5) Comments

Joseph September 6th 2013 | 5:17 PM

Gotta love Mr Harper's brilliance on this topic. By advocating joint action, Mr Harper puts the ball straight in Obama's court where it belongs given the US produces 4x more oil and uses 10x that of Canada!


Earl Richards September 9th 2013 | 4:16 PM

The US is saturated with oil from the Bakken, from the tar sands, from the Gulf of Mexico, from the Eagle Ford and from the Permian Basin, so there is no need for the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Joseph September 9th 2013 | 6:18 PM

Earl, not sure how you believe that the US, while it produces 4x more oil than Canada, still imports over 11 million barrels of oil a day!

I think you are confusing other articles lately that are claiming that the other 38 pipeline expansion projects in North America, together with the massive increase in oil by railway terminal take-away capacity is relieving the bottleneck called 'Keystone XL."

The US still needs over 11 million bpd, hopefully its domestic production and that from Canada can help meet this demand.

Jeffrey Simpson September 11th 2013 | 10:10 AM

The amount of oil used by the US military on a daily basis is staggering and absolutely unsustainable.

Mr. Harper is the son of an oil executive and shills for the oil patch. He is willfully blind and should so be charged by a high court.

Meanwhile in Wyoming, where 22,000 wells have been drilled fracking for oil and gas, the water used for the fracking has put a seriously toxic player into the water supply of the area. The farmers have noticed and are very worried. Water is essential to life while oil is not. Take your pick, you may!

Guess who September 12th 2013 | 12:12 PM

Begging is a sign of desperation. So much for our vaunted leader! (who I already despise)