Keystone XL’s final blow from Barack Obama could come by Labour Day weekend – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – August 27, 2015)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

As if conditions in Canada’s oilpatch weren’t bad enough, more pain could flow north from Washington, D.C., before the Labour Day long weekend, when President Barack Obama is expected to finally deny a permit to the Keystone XL pipeline.

The latest in the United States capital is that an announcement will be made next Thursday or Friday, when many are out of town, reducing potential for blowback, said a well-connected source.

After seven years of review and despite widespread U.S. public support, the President is expected to offer a convoluted rationale for spiking the Canadian project: that approving KXL would facilitate oil sands growth and make it more challenging for him to rally countries to unite for a greenhouse gas reduction deal in Paris in December; and that there is no need for it because the U.S. has plenty of oil of its own.

A denial has been widely expected since Senator John Hoeven, the North Dakota Republican, said last month that Obama would turn down the project in August. Obama has also been repeatedly dismissive of its benefits and earlier this year vetoed a Republican-backed bill that would have bypassed his State Department’s review.

But the final blow would still hurt.

Many Canadians — especially in top oil producing Alberta, where there is a large number of Americans — would see Obama’s fatal stab as a betrayal by a close friend and ally.

Some would see it as a wakeup call that Canada needs to accelerate its push to build pipelines to the West and East coasts and untie itself from the United States, or risk stranding its resources, while competing oil producers are flooding the market with theirs.

Canadian governments (federal and provincial) spent considerable time, effort and political capital defending KXL – a pipeline from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico that meets U.S. criteria, enhances U.S. energy security, feeds Canadian heavy oil to U.S. refineries that want it, is important to Canada’s economy, and is better for the environment than rail.

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