WASHINGTON (ICIS)--Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird on Thursday demanded an immediate decision by the US on the long-planned Keystone XL pipeline, saying that “We can’t continue in this state of limbo”.
In a speech to the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington, Baird hailed the long history of good US-Canadian diplomatic and trade relations, and said he hoped to map out with his US counterparts “a common understanding of where North America fits within the fast-evolving global landscape”.
“An absolutely central part of this understanding is the importance of the energy industry,” he said.
“Canada and the US have the largest and most integrated energy relationship in the world,” he said, adding that “Canada is, by a country mile, the single largest supplier of oil, natural gas and electricity to the US.”
Baird said that the US could become “net North American self-sufficient in its oil requirements in about a decade, but to achieve this, new infrastructure will have to be built”.
He said that the Keystone XL pipeline project, if built, would enable that goal, and he quoted Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as saying that “the logic behind the Keystone project is simply overwhelming”.
The privately funded Keystone XL project has been under review by President Barack Obama's administration for more than four years and has already been given approval by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The long-delayed decision on the project is still pending at the State Department, which has ultimate authority over the proposal because it crosses an international boundary.
The $7bn project would involve building a 36-inch pipeline some 1,100 miles across five US states, bringing crude to refineries in the US Midwest as well as Texas and providing refined products to another half-dozen states.
Canadian officials have repeatedly hinted that absent US approval for the Keystone project, they will take steps to redirect supply of Canadian crude to Asia instead.
Baird said that his government can wait no longer.
“If there is one message I’m going to be promoting on this trip, it’s this: The time for Keystone is now,” he said.
“I’ll go further - the time for a decision on Keystone is now, even if it is not the right one,” he said.
“US energy independence is too important; the environment is too important; our economies are too important,” he concluded.
Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy