EDMONTON – Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says he’s going to Washington next week to not only urge U.S. lawmakers approve the Keystone XL pipeline, but also to highlight green initiatives taking place in his province.
“We need to tell that story,” Wall said Wednesday after meeting in Edmonton with Alberta Premier Alison Redford.
He said Saskatchewan, like the U.S., is heavily reliant on coal-generated electricity, but said his province has invested $1.4 billion in a clean-coal project near Estevan.
“That’s about $1,400 per man, woman and child,” said Wall. “I’m not sure of another jurisdiction in North America that can make that claim.”
Both premiers discussed strategy in what has become a full court press to impress on lawmakers in the United States the importance of the Keystone and Canada’s pledge to do what it can to combat climate change.
“It’s important for us is to be co-ordinated,” said Redford.
“The first thing we want to do is speak to what Canada’s record has been.”
Wall’s trip to the U.S. capital comes on the heels of Redford’s trip to Washington last weekend.
Redford met with 19 state governors to sell the message that the TransCanada (TSX:TRP) Keystone line is good for both economies and will deliver a larger supply of reliable oil south of the border.
Redford has also emphasized that Alberta is doing its part to reduce the climate-changing greenhouse gases that result from carbon intensive projects like the oilsands.
She has stressed that Alberta is the only North American jurisdiction to tax heavy emitters. Alberta is also investing millions of dollars in clean-energy projects and beefing up environmental monitoring of the oilsands.
Critics, however, have said the pace of development is outstripping these measures.
Redford reiterated her pitch in a guest column Tuesday in the nationally circulated USA Today newspaper.
Wall has been busy as well.
Last month, he and 10 U.S. state governors wrote a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama urging he “swiftly” approve the $7-billion pipeline in an environmentally sustainable way to lift North American economy and create jobs.
Wall said Saskatchewan has the potential for oilsands development and has already got investors waiting in the wings.
Alberta’s representative in Washington, David Manning, is also working the Keystone file.
Gary Doer, Canada’s U.S. ambassador, said Tuesday he believes most Americans want the line, but that the issue is being sidetracked by, among other factors, celebrity protesters.
It’s getting down to crunch time on a decision by Obama on whether to approve the 1,800-km pipeline.
It would ship oilsands crude from Alberta down through Saskatchewan and six U.S. states to Texas refineries on the Gulf Coast.
The route is considered vital to Alberta’s bottom line. The profit margin on the oilsands product has been dropping due to a pipeline bottleneck in the U.S. and a glut of oil coming from North Dakota.
Alberta is expecting to get half of the $13 billion it had hoped from oil and gas this year, ballooning this year’s deficit to a projected $4 billion.
Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have made it clear in speeches this month that they want action on climate change, referring to the boost in global temperatures being blamed for more droughts, superstorms, and rising seas.
On top of that, Keystone has become the line in the sand for protesters who say it’s time to reverse the trend of carbon-intensive operations.
Less than two weeks ago, 20,000 protesters rallied at the Washington Monument within sight of the White House urging Obama to reject Keystone. Days before that celebrity activists like actress Daryl Hannah and environment lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. were arrested after they tied themselves to a White House gate,
Labour groups and the petroleum industry are pushing hard for Obama to OK the project.
Kerry’s department is currently reviewing the environmental impacts of a revised route for Keystone.
Obama shelved the project last year amid concerns the line could affect a major aquifer in Nebraska. Nebraska’s governor has since signed off on a revised route.
Once the report is done, Kerry and Obama are expected to make their final decisions, as early as this spring.