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Obama’s environmental pledge making Keystone XL supporters nervous
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Tuesday, January 22, 2013 6:17PM MST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 22, 2013 6:43PM MST
Tuesday marked a major step forward for the Keystone XL Pipeline, with the Governor of Nebraska gave the go-ahead to a route for the pipeline – amid fierce opposition from environmental groups.
The Republican Governor Dave Hieneman had initially held off approval, because the original route through Nebraska included the pipeline going through an environmentally sensitive area.
Its news supporters of the pipeline in Alberta welcome.
“This is an important step in the right direction,” Provincial Energy Minister Ken Hughes said. “I’m very encouraged, and now of course, we’ll be watching the state [U.S.] State Department and the government of the US, and perhaps the Oval Office as they weigh the options.”
Since the pipeline would cross an international border, it needs approval from the U.S. State Department, and President Barack Obama.
While the project’s route has been approved, the next steps are making proponents of the bill nervous, as it falls a day after Obama pledged to make the environment a priority in his second term as president.
“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” Obama said during his inauguration speech Monday.
Political pundits believe that promise could become a concern for the pipeline – as that reference indicates environmental initiatives are top of mind going into his second term.
“He could push through some stuff that would be very unpopular, or difficult to push through in the first term,” Richard Dixon, with the U of A’s Alberta School of Business said.
The province’s need for revenue from the $7 billion pipeline, that would transport bitumen from Alberta to Texas, has not been kept a secret.
Less than two weeks ago, the premier said the province was losing millions of dollars in potential revenue each day, because of the price difference between US Oil, and Alberta bitumen.
Premier Alison Redford said on Jan. 14 that it was important for the province to make the resource available to international markets, where the price for the resource would go up.
In Gov. Hieneman’s letter to Obama, he said the pipeline would lead to $418 million in economic benefit for the U.S.
Regardless, Dixon said he believes Obama will be heavily pressured not to approve the project.
“You’re going to see the protests,” Dixon said. “You’re going to see the vilification of Alberta’s oilsands.”
The Sierra Club has already announced plans to march in Washington, DC on Feb. 17 against the project.
With files from Kim Taylor and the Canadian Press
This map shows the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route, which originates in Hardisty, Alta., then cuts diagonally across the southwest corner of Manitoba before entering the U.S. (TransCanada)