Baird set to sell Keystone pipeline to US

Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa February 4, 2013

Credits: REUTERS/Chris Wattie


OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will be going in for the hard sell on the Keystone XL pipeline when he sits down with his new U.S. counterpart in the coming weeks.

Baird said Monday he takes "nothing for granted" when it comes to getting the green light from the White House for TransCanada's $7-billion pipeline project that would carry Alberta crude to Texas - the final hurdle for the controversial project.

Following his 15-minute weekend phone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry - who was sworn-in Friday - the minister said he didn't yet have a sense which way the decision may go.

"(Kerry) recently relayed to me the state department's report will soon be completed and will be made public for public comment, which I appreciated," Baird said Monday.

"And then we agreed to sit down in short order to have a more fulsome discussion of the issue."

The Conservative government has been lobbying heavily in Washington, D.C. for the Keystone XL project, arguing it's critical for the future economic prosperity of both countries.

Two weeks ago, Nebraska's governor approved the new route being proposed by TransCanada for the project, moving it away from an environmentally sensitive region in the state.

But there's a vocal opposition to the project south of the border.

Environmental groups are organizing a rally Feb.17 to pressure the Obama administration to kill it.

Last week, the journal Nature published an editorial recommending the U.S. government approve the pipeline.

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