Keystone report appears positive

WASHINGTON D.C. — Canadian officials say they’re encouraged by what they’re hearing about a long-awaited report on the environmental impact of the Keystone XL pipeline that could be released imminently by the U.S. State Department.

By THE CANADIAN PRESS

WASHINGTON D.C. — Canadian officials say they’re encouraged by what they’re hearing about a long-awaited report on the environmental impact of the Keystone XL pipeline that could be released imminently by the U.S. State Department.

Those sources in Washington and Ottawa say they’ve been told the report could be ready for release within a few days — and that it will bolster the case for the controversial energy project.

“What we’re hearing is that it’s going to be positive for the project — and therefore positive for Canada,” said one diplomat in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he hadn’t seen the report himself.

“The rumours certainly are that it’s very thorough and that the analysis will support the project.”

He said there was optimism amongst Canadian officials but no celebration just yet: “You’re not going to be seeing people high-fiving and toasting with champagne,” he said.

“It’s just another step (in the process).”

Earlier this month, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird was in Washington pleading for a decision soon. He said enough time had been lost on the project and didn’t want to see another construction season wasted.

His U.S. counterpart, John Kerry, responded that there would be no fast-tracking the process.

The actual writing of the report began in August, according to the Canadian source in D.C. With the threat of almost-certain lawsuits looming, regardless of what the final Keystone decision might be, he said he’d heard from U.S. officials that the report authors were under pressure to be especially rigorous.

“What we need is an (environmental impact statement),” he said, “that is so thoroughly done that it will stand up to litigation.”

The report is the latest environmental impact statement on the $7-billion TransCanada project to come from the State Department, which has jurisdiction because the pipeline crosses an international boundary.

The last report, released a year ago, concluded the project would not significantly impact the rate of oilsands development or crude oil demand, nor would it pose any greater risk to the environment than other modes of transportation. President Barack Obama has since declared that he will only approve the pipeline if it can be shown that it will not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said Wednesday that he expected the forthcoming report to draw the same conclusions as the last one. “There are no new facts on the ground,” Oliver said. “So you know, it’s to be expected that they would come out in the same way.”

Once that step is taken, the U.S. administration will conduct a 90-day review to determine if the project is in the national interest.

Another Canadian diplomat warned against concluding that the report’s release is automatically imminent. Even if it’s slated to come in the next few days, there’s always a chance someone, somewhere, could hold up its release.

For starters, the accepted wisdom in Washington has been that the State Department document would not be released until an inspector general’s review of conflict-of-interest allegations against a consultant working on the report.

That review into the activities of contractor Environmental Resources Managament came after news that several of its consultants working on the project had also worked for TransCanada and its subsidiaries, without that previous work having been disclosed.

Gary Doer, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., refused to speculate on the timing or content.

“We have no certainty on the timing,” Doer said in an interview.

But he expressed faith that the Canadian position would prevail: that the pipeline would be the safest, cleanest way to ship oil that would be transported to the U.S., one way or the other.

Referring to train accidents, including the tragedy in Lac-Megantic, Que., Doer said events since the last State Department review had only served to reinforce the earlier conclusion.

“We believe that the facts have, regrettably, become only stronger on oil vs. rail,” he said. “We believe that (the earlier conclusion by the State Department) will be maintained: higher cost, higher (greenhouse gases) without a pipeline.”

A State Department spokesperson wouldn’t confirm anything.

“The State Department is working on the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Final SEIS), addressing issues in more than 1.5 million public comments, as appropriate. There is no time line for the release of the Final SEIS,” the spokeswoman said in an email. “The Department continues to review the Presidential Permit application for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in a rigorous, transparent, and objective manner.”

Just Posted

FILE - Albertans enter a COVID-19 mass immunization clinic in downtown Calgary, on May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Red Deer down to 115 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 165 new cases Sunday

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a closing news conference at Tregenna Castle following the G7 Summit in St. Ives, Cornwall, England, on Sunday, June 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges support for Ukraine, mum on support for next step in NATO membership

Canada will continue to help address security threats in region

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Canada head coach Bev Priestman reacts during the women’s international friendly soccer match between England and Canada at Bet365 stadium in Stoke on Trent, England on April 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Rui Vieira
Canada coach Bev Priestman hopes to see improved performance against Brazil

Priestman will likely field a more senior lineup to start Monday

Jimmy Smits arrives at a special screening of “In the Heights” during the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Friday, June 4, 2021. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Jimmy Smits figured he could carry a tune ‘In the Heights’

‘In the Heights’ follows dreams and struggles of Latino community in New York

Actress Devery Jacobs poses for photographs on the red carpet during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Thursday, September 13, 2018. Jacobs grew up in the Kanien’kehá:ka Mohawk Territory in Quebec but says shooting her new TV series “Reservation Dogs” in the U.S. felt like “a sense of home. ” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto-based Devery Jacobs on starring in Indigenous-led series ‘Reservation Dogs’

Series to make its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

A man wears a face mask as he walks by a sign for a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, May 16, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Canada paid a premium to get doses from Pfizer earlier than planned

OTTAWA — Canada paid a premium to get more than 250,000 doses… Continue reading

The Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., is shown in this 1930 handout photo. HO — Deschatelets-NDC Archives
Calls grow for Ottawa to review settlement decisions for residential school survivors

Lawyer Teri Lynn Bougie still cries when she talks about the final… Continue reading

Most Read