Harper still confident Keystone XL will be built, says Obama ‘punted’ decision
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says United States President Barack Obama has “punted” a decision on the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, but he’s still confident the long-delayed $5.4-billion project will eventually be built.
Harper made his remarks during a question-and-answer session with Vancouver Board of Trade CEO Iain Black. When Black launched into one question by saying Obama had rejected the pipeline, Harper interjected.
“No, he’s punted,” the prime minister said of Obama. “He said ‘maybe.'”
“It is my hope that the administration will in due course see its way to take the appropriate decision, but that’s obviously a political process in the United States,” Harper continued.
TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) first applied to build the 830,000-barrel-per-day pipeline more than five years ago. The Obama administration rejected an earlier iteration of it, but encouraged the company to re-apply with a tweaked route through Nebraska to address environmental concerns.
The $2.3-billion, 700,000-barrel-per-day southern portion of the pipeline between Cushing, Okla., and the U.S. Gulf Coast — which TransCanada could build without U.S. State Department approval because it doesn’t cross an international border — is in the process of starting up.
In an interview last month, TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said he’s optimistic a final decision on the more contentious northern portion of the pipeline will come during the first quarter of 2014.
Marc Spitzer, a former commissioner with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission who is now a partner with law firm Steptoe & Johnson LLP, said the Keystone XL has become “collateral damage” in an increasingly polarized U.S. political scene.
Those wondering why Keystone XL has become a “poster child” for the U.S. environmental movement might as well ask “why do people care about Miley Cyrus now?” he said.
“It’s one of those accidents of history and the White House made it worse.” (Source: Hamilton Spectator)