The Keystone XL pipeline project may be facing stiff criticism from environmental groups, but that isn’t stopping Canada’s ambassador to the United States from betting a six-pack of beer on its approval.
Ambassador Gary Doer took his bullish stance as he gave a speech at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. on Monday. His confidence comes as polls in the United States show increasing public support for the project, even as environmental protectionists strive to sway government officials towards declining the cross-border permit that would be necessary for the pipeline. The pipeline is intended to pump oil retrieved from Alberta’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas, to proceed.
Public opinion in the U.S. is leaning towards approval, but the two candidates participating in the upcoming presidential election offer differing views on the future of the project; while Mitt Romney has promised to approve it on “day one” if he should be elected, Barack Obama is committed to delaying a decision until next year, when the State Department completes its review of the project’s many intangible aspects and risks.
The Obama administration had a chance to give the pipeline final approval in late 2011, but declined due to concerns about its path through environmentally sensitive areas of the state of Nebraska. TransCanada Corp, the company behind the proposed project, agreed to change the route and has submitted its new plan to Nebraskan officials for their approval as of this month.
With support among environmental groups, unions and the general public all varying widely, the issue has become a particularly sensitive one for American politicians and business leaders while support for the pipeline in Canada is nearly universal. Ambassador Doer’s comments, while reflective of the Canadian political mentality concerning Keystone XL, potentially misses the mark in gauging support for the project south of the 49th parallel.