(Refiles to correct the spelling of "Daryl" in the third
* Keystone XL pipeline to pump up to 700,000 bpd to Texas
* Protesters worry about oil spills, higher emissions
* Daryl Hannah, Mark Ruffalo, Dalai Lama among opponents
By Julie Gordon
TORONTO, Sept 23 Canada's energy minister shot
back on Friday at Hollywood celebrities protesting a plan to
build a $7 billion oil pipeline to Texas from Alberta in the
first public indication that the protests are getting under
Joe Oliver, the minister in charge of energy, said
increasingly vocal critics opposing the project on
environmental grounds may become a threat to his government's
plans to cement Canada as the dominant North American energy
"Criticism of the oil sands - and now the proposed Keystone
XL pipeline - is a major concern for us with implications for
our energy industry, our economy and our energy security,"
Oliver told a business audience in Toronto.
Actors Daryl Hannah and Mark Ruffalo, author and
environmentalist Bill McKibben, "No Logo" author Naomi Klein,
as well as the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu are among notables
who have come out against the Keystone XL pipeline.
Hannah was one of more than 1,200 people arrested in
protests against Keystone XL at the White House in August and
September. Another anti-oil sands demonstration is planned for
Ottawa on Sept. 26, and a host of Canadian actors, including
Gordon Pinsent and Dave Thomas, have said they back the cause.
Oliver listed several initiatives the oil industry and the
government have undertaken to improve environmental performance
in the Alberta oil sands, including reclaiming land and
reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
He stressed that mines in the tar sands have displaced only
0.1 percent of the country's boreal forest. "You won't hear
this from celebrity protesters," he said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government has
been an enthusiastic promoter of TransCanada Corp's (TRP.TO)
Keystone XL pipeline, which would ship more than half a million
barrels a day of oil sands-derived crude to Texas from
Until now ministers have steered clear of mentioning
big-name protesters, saying only they are confident that the
U.S. State Department will ultimately approve the project.
Opponents say the pipeline will put vast underground water
supplies in the United States at risk of oil spills and foster
more oil sands production, which emits more carbon dioxide than
Oliver said the celebrities are not considering the facts
of the issue, including the need to improve North American
energy security with the help of Canada's vast resources.
"Canada has excess capacity, and the U.S. has excess
demand. So we need a pipeline that will transport as much as
700,000 barrels a day of Western crude from Alberta to the
refineries in Texas, where it is needed," he said.
(Writing by Jeffrey Jones, Reporting by Julie Gordon, Editing
by Peter Galloway)