Embassy Row: Pipeline and protests

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Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer is traveling the United States to promote the Keystone XL project as U.S. environmentalists threaten President Obama with civil unrest if he approves the proposed oil pipeline from Alberta to Texas.

Mr. Doer pitched the pipeline Friday in Minneapolis, where he touted its energy security benefits for the U.S.

“That will be a huge game-changer in terms of geo-security issues for the United States and North America,” he said.

The pipeline would make Americans less dependent on oil from nations like Nigeria and Venezuela, both among the top five energy exporters to the U.S. Canada, the largest oil exporter to the United States, delivered 2.4 million barrels per day last year — nearly a third of the 8.5 million barrels Americans consume daily, according to Energy Department figures.

The State Department, which has to review the project because the pipeline would cross a foreign border, has concluded it will have little adverse affect on the six U.S. states along its proposed 2,000-mile route.

“The State Department correctly pointed out that oil from Canada will not increase greenhouse gases if the pipeline is approved because it’s now basically coming down on train,” Mr. Doer said, referring to the transport of Canadian oil over railroads.

TransCanada Corp., the Canadian-based energy company that is proposing the pipeline, predicts the project will provide the U.S. with 830,000 barrels per day, nearly as much as the United States imported from Venezuela last year. The company also says the project will create 42,000 jobs.

The Keystone XL project is an extension of a network of pipelines that already sends hundred of thousands of gallons of oil daily to U.S. refineries.

Mr. Obama, who ultimately must decide on the project, is facing domestic pressure from key interest groups in the Democratic Party. Some labor unions see the benefit of new jobs, while environmentalists oppose the project. Many are threatening unrest if Mr. Obama approves the pipeline, The Washington Times reported Monday.

“You’ll see the biggest spread of peaceful civil disobedience in modern American history,” warned Becky Bond, political director of the anti-pipeline group Credo.

ARCTIC AMBASSADOR 

Secretary of State John F. Kerry is warming up to calls for an American ambassador to represent U.S. interests in the Arctic, a mineral-rich region at the center of a global race for natural resources and shipping lanes.

Countries as far from the North Pole as China and Singapore are pushing for representation on the eight-member Arctic Council.

“The reason China and those other countries are knocking on the door is that they all want to get observer status in the council,” Mr. Kerry told a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing this week on the State Department’s proposed budget.

Sen. Mark Begich, Alaska Democrat, urged Mr. Kerry to appoint a high-level diplomat with the rank of ambassador-at-large to represent U.S. interests at the council. The United States is now represented by a State Department diplomat well below ambassadorial rank.

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About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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