Anti-Keystone billionaire to host Obama at $5,000-a-person fundraiser – by Josh Wingrove (Globe and Mail – April 2, 2013)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

EDMONTON — One of the most prominent opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline will soon get a chance to plead his case to the man who controls the project’s fate – by personally hosting a fundraiser for U.S. President Barack Obama.

Billionaire Tom Steyer and his wife are scheduled to host Mr. Obama at their home in San Francisco on Wednesday for a $5,000-per-person cocktail fundraiser, one stop of a brief trip in which anti-Keystone protesters, placards in hand, will also greet the President. It comes as cleanup continues at the site of an oil spill in Arkansas, where a pipeline carrying Canadian crude ruptured and forced the evacuation of about two dozen homes.

That spill has spurred on environmentalists and Keystone XL opponents, many of whom see Mr. Steyer as a close ally. The hedge-fund founder last month waded into the Massachusetts Senate race by buying ads against a fellow Democrat who supports the Keystone XL project. Mr. Steyer has regularly spoken out against Keystone. His cocktail fundraiser will offer another platform.

“As it relates to the President, Tom is honored to be hosting such an event,” Christopher Lehane, the American billionaire’s spokesman, said in an e-mail. “His view is that rather than making a 40-year commitment to a pipeline that will ship oil to our economic competitors, we should be investing in clean energy that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs here in the U.S. and reduce the carbon going into the air.”

The argument echoes those made by many environmental groups, but it is rejected by TransCanada Corp., which has proposed the pipeline. The overwhelming majority of crude oil shipped by Keystone would be refined in the United States, spokesman Grady Semmens said in a statement. He argued the pipeline will make the United States less reliant on “less stable countries” for oil, saying Keystone “will help Canadian and American oil producers receive better value for the millions of barrels that are already being produced every day, for the benefit of all Canadians and Americans.”

The Keystone XL approval rests in Mr. Obama’s hands. A State Department review found the project wouldn’t significantly affect the pace of oil-sands development and therefore wouldn’t have a significant impact on global carbon emissions.

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