TransCanada ramps up effort to sway U.S. on Keystone XL project – by Jeffrey Jones (Globe and Mail – July 19, 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.

CALGARY – TransCanada Corp. is seeking to bolster its case with U.S. President Barack Obama for the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline, firing off a laundry list of reasons the company says the contentious project will have minimal influence on rising North American greenhouse gas emissions.

TransCanada sent data from various studies on Canadian oil sands, carbon intensity and power used by pipelines to the U.S. State Department in response to Mr. Obama’s recent remarks that elevated climate impact to the top of the list of criteria for approving or rejecting the project.

The Calgary-based company remains intent on winning approval for the $5.3-billion (U.S.) pipeline in the face of opposition from environmental groups, though chief executive officer Russ Girling warned on Thursday that the slow pace of the regulatory process would make it hard to achieve the current start-up target of late 2015.

That would represent another in a string of delays since TransCanada first applied to build the export conduit to Texas refineries from Alberta nearly five years ago. In that time, the proposal, aimed at opening up a major market for Alberta heavy crude, has become politically troublesome for Mr. Obama, splitting his Democratic Party along economic and environmental lines.

In a June speech outlining plans to fight climate change, the President said Keystone XL would be approved “only if this project does not significantly exacerbate” greenhouse-gas emissions.

TransCanada wrote to the State Department’s environmental policy division on Wednesday to try to reinforce some familiar themes in its argument. Rejecting the project would have no impact on how much heavy crude gets used by U.S. refineries, the company said, stressing that the absence of Canadian supply in the Gulf Coast market would be made up by oil from Venezuela, which has similar carbon intensity.

The position echoes conclusions in the draft environmental impact assessment for Keystone XL, released in March. That report said it was unlikely that approving the 830,000-barrel-a-day project would have a large impact on the rate of oil sands development. TransCanada said the resource is a “critical resource to Canada, the United States and to the world” and will be developed, regardless of Keystone’s approval.

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