CALGARY — Alberta Premier Alison Redford said she’s not worried that her frequent trips to Washington, D.C., to promote the Keystone XL oil pipeline will create an overexposure problem with the American public.
Redford has visited Washington four times since she became premier 18 months ago. She has attracted the attention of anti-Keystone protesters, including some who repeatedly interrupted her speech to the Brookings Institution last week.
“The challenge is to make sure that your story is heard,” Redford told reporters prior to her annual leader’s dinner in Calgary on Thursday.
“If you are lucky enough to be one of those people where your story is heard too much and no one wants to hear from you anymore then you’ve just done an excellent job.”
Redford said there are key discussions in committee rooms at both the Congressional and Senate levels regarding Keystone XL and it is essential to keep Alberta’s message front and centre.
“I’ll tell you that every opportunity that we have to go to Washington … to talk to decision makers is critical and particularly so right now,” she said.
“From our perspective it’s important to be there to keep saying what we’ve been saying, to make sure people know what we’re doing in Alberta, what our values are, what our environmental record is.”
The pipeline has become a flashpoint in the U.S. debate over climate change. Republicans and business and labour groups have urged the Obama administration to approve the pipeline as a source of much-needed jobs and a step toward North American energy independence.
Environmental groups have been pressuring President Barack Obama to reject the pipeline, saying it would carry “dirty oil” that contributes to global warming. They also worry about a spill and have mounted an aggressive advertising campaign critical of Keystone.
“I think some of them are absolutely ridiculous,” Redford said.
“There are a lot of those ads and we’ve got to pay attention to them. That’s one of the reasons that we invested in ads to make sure the record is clear and the facts are on the table.”
The Obama administration is considering whether to approve the pipeline, which would carry 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta across six U.S. states to the Texas Gulf Coast, which has numerous refineries. A decision is expected later this summer.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it is important to keep an open dialogue with the United States over Keystone XL.
“We are doing that at every level of the government and in coordination with the province of Alberta and others,” Harper said at an event in Calgary on Thursday. “We really do have a Team Canada approach to this.
“This is a matter that I think is vital to both the economic growth and the energy security in all of Canada and the United States as well.”
He said he was glad to see Redford working hard to “tell our story of the actions we are taking here in Alberta and across the country.”