Keystone delay costs $100B yearly – by Sheldon Alberts (National Post – December 16, 2011)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

The Obama administration’s ongoing delay approving the Keystone XL pipeline is a “tragedy” that is costing the North American economy thousands of jobs and up to $100 billion a year in economic benefit, TransCanada Corp.’s chief executive said Thursday.

“That’s the kind of economic stimulus that gets generated. I don’t think we can afford to continue to delay things like that,” TransCanada president and CEO Russ Girling said in an interview.

But even as he noted Keystone XL has undergone “the most rigorous review of a pipeline ever built anywhere in North America,” Girling told Postmedia News he wants no part of the current fight in Congress over speeding up a decision on his company’s $7 billion oilsands project.

Despite its initial disappointment with a State Department last month that delayed a ruling on a permit for Keystone XL until early 2013, Girling said TransCanada is comfortable working within the new timeline.

“Certainly we would like that to move as fast as possible. But our job is to do it as thoroughly as is required, and to do it right,” Girling said.

“At this point in time, I’m not focused on those things (in Congress) at all. I’m focused on building a pipeline.”

TransCanada announced new binding commitments Thursday to deliver oil through Keystone XL and said it will proceed – subject to regulatory approval — with an 80-kilometre extension of the pipeline to facilitate deliveries into Houston.

The continued commitment by customers to Keystone XL shows the persistent demand for a major oil pipeline and the market’s confidence that the 2,700 kilometre pipeline will eventually be approved, Girling said.

“Keystone is the logical gatherer of all that crude. The marketplace again has spoken and said this is the way we want to go about doing this and signed additional contracts,” he said. “Denial of the pipeline won’t stop the demands for crude oil in the Gulf Coast. They need to get it from someplace.”

Girling’s comments come in the wake of a bruising political fight in Washington over Republican legislation that would tie a quicker decision on Keystone XL to the extension of a tax relief bill favoured by President Barack Obama.

The president has vowed to veto a bill passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives that would force the State Department to decide on Keystone XL within 60 days.

House Republicans and Senate Democrats were in talks on Thursday about finding a compromise, with the White House still urging the Keystone XL provision be stripped from legislation to extend payroll tax cuts to about 160 million Americans.

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