The U.S. still does not have an answer for Canada as to whether it will approve a stretch of pipeline intended to carry crude oil from tar sands in Alberta all the way down to the Gulf Coast in Texas.On Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters at a joint press conference with his Canadian counterpart John Baird that the Keystone XL pipeline is undergoing an "Environmental Impact Statement analysis," and the results "will be made with respect to the national interests ultimately." "We're just not at that point yet," said Kerry.But a decision on the pipeline, proposed by TransCanada Corp. in 2008, has been repeatedly put off by the U.S. State Department for several years. State is required to sign off on the project because it is a cross-border initiative.
The Canadian government initially said it wouldn't take no for an answer, but Baird stressed during his visit to Washington that "the time for a decision on Keystone is now, even if it's not the right one," adding that Canada "can't continue in this state of limbo." Canada relies on the U.S. for up to 97 percent of its energy exports, and lobbyists for the pipeline have been making a strong push for energy independence in North America."This is a great project for the future economic prosperity of Canada. It's a great project; it'll create a lot of jobs here in the United States," said Baird. "It's a great project which will increase the energy security of our closest friend and ally." KXL, as it is known, would cost USD 7 billion and carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Western Canada, across six U.S. states, and down to refineries in Texas, running about 1,200 miles. Republicans and corporations have backed the project and urged President Barack Obama to approve the pipeline, even though some analysts say it would only employ up to 100 Americans in the process.Activists on both sides of the border - many of whom gather outside the White House several times a year - have also highlighted the environmental impact, as the construction would cut through the native population's reserves, carry "dirty oil," and even result in a spill.A recent study by the Stockholm Environment Institute found that the pipeline would emit 93 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air every year - more than the entire country of Greece.However, the State Department reported almost a year ago that KXL would not have additional damaging effects on the climate, noting that "approval or denial of the proposed project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands, or on the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the Gulf Coast area." TransCanada Corp. said if the U.S. rejects the pipeline, the only alternative is carrying oil via rail, which can have disastrous consequences, as demonstrated in last summer's oil train explosion in Quebec, where 47 people died.