OTTAWA — Canada’s envoy to Washington said Wednesday he’s confident the controversial Keystone XL pipeline will win approval if the final decision is based on merit and not the “noise” opposing it.
Gary Doer was responding to U.S. President Barack Obama’s comment that he will consider many factors, including environmental concerns, in his final decision. Obama made the remarks in an interview with a Nebraska radio station Tuesday.
“I believe if it’s on merit, it will proceed. If it’s on noise it won’t,” Doer said.
Alberta’s TransCanada Corp. is awaiting U.S. approval of the line that would carry oilsands crude south to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The company has faced widespread opposition from vocal environmental groups who argue that a potential pipeline spill would pose many risks, including the contamination of fresh-water drinking supplies across the American Midwest.
A special session of Nebraska’s legislature started Tuesday to consider a bill to give the state more control over the pipeline route.
TransCanada has said it could face major delays if Nebraska legislators decide to change the line’s planned route through the state.
In some of his most detailed comments to date, Obama made a direct reference to the possible risk to drinking water supplies in Nebraska.
“They will be giving me a report over the next several months and my general attitude is: What is best for the American people?” Obama told Nebraska radio listeners.
“What is best for our economy both short-term and long-term? But also what is best for the health of the American people because we don’t want, for example, aquifers that are adversely affected.”
Doer said he believes the proposed $7-billion pipeline meets U.S. energy security needs, and that it passes all U.S. State Department environmental criteria.
“Energy security for the United States, particularly when it’s displacing Venezuelan oil, is a very positive argument as well,” said Doer. “And many of his (Obama’s) own people, dealing with energy security, believe that in Washington. But having said that, the process is proceeding as it should and jobs, energy security are strong arguments for the project.”
Doer also suggested that U.S. jurisprudence would ultimately affirm the authority of the president if Nebraska lawmakers rule that pipeline must be diverted.