Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he remains confident the Keystone XL pipeline will eventually be built despite President Barack Obama’s delay in making a decision on the $5.4 billion project.
“He’s punted,” Harper said of Obama in an interview at an event today hosted by the Vancouver Board of Trade. “He said, ‘Maybe.’”
Harper said he still hopes the Obama administration “will in due course see its way to take the appropriate decision.” While he said he couldn’t put a timeline on a decision, Harper said he is “confident” that “the project will one way or another proceed.”
Obama rejected TransCanada Corp.’s initial application to build Keystone XL after officials in Nebraska said the pipeline would imperil ecologically sensitive lands. TransCanada then split the project in two and reapplied for the rerouted northern leg in May 2012.
A draft State Department report last year said Keystone XL wouldn’t cause increased greenhouse gas emissions because projects in Canada’s oil sands, the world’s third-largest crude reserves, would be developed anyway and transported to market by rail. Obama said in a June speech the project wouldn’t be in the national interest if it worsens climate change.
Oil-sands developers are planning to double output by 2025 and are counting on Keystone XL to lift heavy crude prices by connecting them to the U.S. Gulf Coast, the world’s largest refining center. Environmentalists are trying to block the project because they say it would encourage oil-sands development, releasing more carbon dioxide that scientists say is warming the planet than extracting some conventional crudes.
Harper said today the project will create tens of thousands of jobs, enhance U.S. energy security and have a “negligible” impact on the environment.
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