Embassy Row: U.S. ambassador in Canada refuses to comment on Keystone XL oil pipeline

With about two weeks to go before he leaves Ottawa, the U.S. ambassador in Canada is still refusing to comment on the potential damage to U.S.-Canadian relations from a possible White House rejection of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Ambassador David Jacobson ducked a question on the issue this week when a reporter asked about the pipeline that would transport oil from Alberta to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

In a lengthy response, he managed to say nothing — a tactic some consider the first rule of diplomacy.

“The people in the administration who are charged with deciding this issue are aware of the full range of facts and consequences, whether it be to the bilateral relation, to the climate, to the environment, to the economies, to energy independence, to our geopolitics. There are a range of issues that all have to be taken into account,” Mr. Jacobson told The Associated Press.

However, “the people in the administration” is actually one person, President Obama. For several years, he has been delaying a decision on whether to allow the pipeline to cross the U.S. border. The anti-oil environmentalist lobby is demanding he reject the pipeline, but some union supporters want the project approved because it could create 9,000 to 20,000 American jobs.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has urged Mr. Obama to approve the project, saying that it “absolutely needs to go ahead.”

Privately, many Canadian officials have told reporters that a rejection of the pipeline would damage U.S.-Canadian relations — now among the closest of any two nations in the world.

John Ibbitson of Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper has warned that “highly place government sources” would consider a rejection of the pipeline a “betrayal” of the trust between the two countries. They consider the pipeline “vital to Canada’s economic future,” he wrote.

TransCanada Corp., which proposed the pipeline more than 1,700 days ago, says the project would increase the U.S. oil supply by 830,000 barrels per day. That is nearly as much as the United States imports daily from the anti-American government in Venezuela.

Canada is already the top U.S. foreign supplier, exporting nearly 3 million barrels of oil a day across its border.

Mr. Jacobson, a former corporate lawyer from Chicago and political friend of Mr. Obama’s, is planning to return to the United States on July 4, after four years in the Canadian capital.

latin america’s future

Seven former Latin American presidents gathered in Washington this to week to proclaim that the future of the region is “bright,” despite widespread poverty and rampant drug-gang violence.

“I leave today’s event encouraged by the ideas offered for furthering economic integration and democratic development,” said Alejandro Toledo, a former president of Peru and now president of the Global Center for Development and Democracy.

“The future of Latin America is bright.”

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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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