* Brad Wall says project would boost energy security
* 10 U.S. governors sign letter
* Environmental groups warn of climate impact
By Jeffrey Jones
CALGARY, Alberta, Jan 17 The premier of
Saskatchewan led 10 U.S. state governors on Thursday in urging
President Barack Obama to approve TransCanada Corp's
contentious and long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline, citing
energy-security benefits in both countries.
Saskatchewan does not have the massive oil sands resources
that neighboring Alberta does and which would move in large
volumes to the southern United States in the proposed $5.3
billion conduit. But it does have some of the Bakken light oil
reserves that would also be shipped.
"The energy relationship between the United States and
Canada is vital to the future of both our countries. It is an
interest we share, transcending political lines and geographic
boundaries," Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said in a letter to
Wall pointed out that U.S. oil imports from Canada could
reach 4 million barrels a day in seven years, twice the amount
now imported from the Gulf region of the Middle East.
"The Keystone XL Pipeline could also provide the critical
infrastructure required to transport growing U.S. domestic
production from the Bakken shale region to market," Wall wrote.
The governors of Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, North
Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming, all
Republicans, were also signatories to the letter to Obama
supporting the project, which would move more than 800,000
barrels of oil a day to southern Nebraska from Canada.
A decision by the State Department on whether to approve the
pipeline is expected by the end of the first quarter, though
some analysts expect that timing to slip.
TransCanada faces staunch opposition from environmentalists,
who warn of the increased risk of oil spills. On Thursday, The
Natural Resources Defense Council, Pembina Institute and others
pressed their case in Washington by saying the project would
foster increased oil sands development in Alberta and surging
Obama rejected TransCanada's application last year, saying
it must stake out a new route around the environmentally
sensitive Sandhills region of Nebraska. TransCanada resubmitted
its application last spring.
The $2.3 billion southern section of the project, between
Oklahoma and Texas, is already under construction as it did not
require a presidential permit.
Absent from the list of governors was Dave Heineman, the
Republican leader of Nebraska. His state's environmental
regulator recently issued an assessment on the new path that
said Keystone would have little impact on a major aquifer and
that any spill cleanup would be paid for by TransCanada.
Heineman is expected to decide soon whether to approve the
Among environmental groups pressing for rejection, Oil
Change International said emissions from a byproduct of refining
oil sands, known as petroleum coke, have so far been unaccounted
for. Petcoke can be burned like coal by utilities.
Most previous assessments of emissions linked to oil sands
have not examined emissions from burning the substance, the
group said. The Oil Change report said the fuel emits 5 percent
to 10 percent more carbon dioxide than does coal.
Concern about climate change has increased after a series of
extreme weather events last year, including Hurricane Sandy,
widespread drought and the warmest year on record in the United
Representative Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the House
Energy and Commerce Committee, said Keystone should be stopped.
"We know that climate change is happening now, we have to
fight it now, and we must say no to this pollution pipeline
now," Waxman said in a release
Alberta Premier Alison Redford, whose provincial coffers are
highly dependent on oil exports, said Obama's administration was
already fully aware of her position supporting Keystone XL.