Politics
Construction of the Keystone Pipeline (Courtesy of Transcanada) Construction of the Keystone Pipeline (Courtesy of Transcanada)  

Alberta premier upset by Obama’s Keystone XL decision

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Alberta’s top official said this evening that the White House’s surprise opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline pressures the province to seek different export routes for its valuable oil.

“Alberta is an export-based economy and today’s decision is a clear reminder about the strategic importance of diversifying our export markets,” said Alison Redford, the new right-of-center premier of Canada’s Alberta province.

Her statements suggest officials will work to build alternative pipelines to Canada’s East or West Coast, bypassing the United States, 20,000 construction workers and many oil-sector workers.

However, Redford said she still hopes to win U.S. approval for the pipeline, which is strongly opposed by environmentalists who are important to President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election plans.

“I sincerely hope that the State Department made this decision based on science and evidence and not rhetoric and hyperbole from very well-organized interest groups,” said Redford, who is slated to visit to D.C. next week to consult with administration officials on the pipeline.

GOP legislators slammed the administration’s decision to delay the pipeline. “By punting on this project, the President has made clear that campaign politics are driving U.S. policy decisions — at the expense of American jobs,” said a statement by House Speaker John Boehner.

Several alternative routes exist. (RELATED: Obama delays oil pipeline plan, discards 20,000 jobs)

For example, a proposed pipeline to the West Coast port of Kitimat in British Columbia, would allow oil to be delivered to the China market for $6 a barrel, according to a June estimate prepared by the U.S. Department of Energy. A pipeline via nearby Vancouver would deliver oil to China for $7 a barrel, while the use of trains to deliver oil to the West Coast for roughly $10 per barrel, said the estimate.

The company that wants to built the pipeline says it is optimistic.

“We remain confident Keystone XL will ultimately be approved,” said a statement from TransCanada’s president Russ Girling. “This project is too important to the U.S. economy, the Canadian economy and the national interest of the United States for it not to proceed.”

“Keystone XL is shovel-ready,” said Girling’s statement. “TransCanada is poised to put 20,000 Americans to work to construct the pipeline — pipe fitters, welders, mechanics, electricians, heavy equipment operators, the list goes on. Local businesses along the pipeline route will benefit from the 118,000 spin-off jobs Keystone XL will create through increased business for local restaurants, hotels and suppliers.”

Girling also echoed the calls by “ethical oil” advocates, who said Canada’s oil is a more morally acceptable source than oil produced in repressive states, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela. “If Keystone XL dies, Americans will still wake up the next morning and continue to import 10 million barrels of oil from repressive nations, without the benefit of thousands of jobs and long term energy security… That would be a tragedy,” he wrote.

Republicans are pushing ahead with plans to boost oil sector jobs.

“House Republicans will soon introduce and pass jobs legislation that ties the permanent expansion of American energy production to an increase in new infrastructure projects,” said Boehner’s statement. “Today is another reminder that the President’s energy policy is destroying American jobs while Republicans are focused on using American resources to put people back to work.”

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