Obama's Keystone comments cause for concern: Wall

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.



OTTAWA - Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says comments by President Barack Obama understating the economic benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline and downplaying Canada's efforts to curb carbon emissions are worrisome.

Obama raised eyebrows with his remarks low-balling the number of construction and spin-off jobs the TransCanada Corp. $7.6 billion pipeline to the Texas Gulf Coast from Alberta would create over the two years to build.

Wall said the commentary could be construed by some that Obama is considering rejecting the pipeline, but the premier remained hopeful the project would move forward.

"We should all be concerned about that," Wall said Wednesday.

"That's why we have worked so hard to make the case for Keystone - not just in terms of its economics, but also in terms of what we are doing in our country environmentally to give the administration elbow room to approve it."

Wall also pointed to a draft report from the U.S. State Department that said the pipeline could generate up to 42,000 direct and indirect jobs.

TransCanada says the project would employ 20,000. The White House has yet to confirm how Obama came up with 2,000 in a media interview.

The Department also said the mammoth infrastructure undertaking would have a negligible impact on carbon emissions because Alberta crude would make it to US refineries by other means if the pipeline is mothballed.

Oil exports by rail are surging and will continue to escalate with the announcement Keyera Corp. and Kinder Morgan Energy are to build a crude oil rail loading facility in Edmonton to ferry about 40,000 barrels a day to refineries.

Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner said approving Keystone makes good economic sense for both countries.

"There is ample evidence that shows that there is no increase in greenhouse gases simply because of a pipeline," he said. "If you're talking about reduction of greenhouse gases, Alberta is the only jurisdiction in North America that has currently got fines levied against increases intensity. We're the only jurisdiction doing something further than just speaking about it."

Former U.S. ambassador to Canada David Wilkins, now a lobbyist for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers in Washington, has said that of the top five countries exporting oil to the U.S., Canada is alone in regulating carbon.

Coal-fired electrical plants in the U.S. general almost 50 times more greenhouse gases than the oilsands.

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