Democrats past and present applauded the Keystone XL oil pipeline, with both President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton saying it represents a much-needed economic boost in the US.
Calgary-based TransCanada Energy announced recently that it would build the line from Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico in anticipation of brining crude all the way from northern Alberta once it acquires approvals.
Speaking at an energy conference Wednesday in Maryland, Clinton said Americans should “embrace” the $7-billion project.
“The extra cost of running it is infinitesimal compared to (potential) revenues,” Clinton said, according to Bloomberg. “We should embrace it and develop a stakeholder-driven system of high standards for doing the work.”
Clinton blamed TransCanada for not realizing the pipeline’s original route from the oil sands near Fort McMurray, Alta., to refineries in Texas crossed through sensitive habitat in Nebraska.
Obama rejected that route, saying more work needed to be done to provide environmental protection.
"One of the most amazing things to me about this Keystone pipeline deal is that they ever filed that route in the first place since they could’ve gone around the Nebraska Sandhills and avoided most of the dangers, no matter how imagined, to the Ogallala (aquifer) with a different route,” Clinton said, Politico reported.
The presidential seal of approval came a day after Obama welcomed reports that the Calgary energy company plans to build the southern section of the line.
He said that just because the White House halted the plan earlier this year, it didn’t scrap the project altogether and will evaluate a new route based on merit.
“The president welcomes today’s news that TransCanada plans to build a pipeline to bring crude oil from Cushing, Okla., to the Gulf of Mexico," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement, according to Postmedia News.
The pipeline’s proponents say it reduces American reliance on oil from the Middle East and provides jobs while address rising gas prices. It also allows for development of shale reserves in North Dakota.
Opponents say Keystone furthers North America’s love affair with harmful fossil fuels while setting the stage for disaster should it ever leak. There has also been longstanding criticism in Canada because of the oil sands environmental impacts.
TransCanada executives said they don’t expect the controversy to end; however, they also expect Washington’s approval next year.
“As soon as it is ready, we will make the application, and I would say it’s in the coming weeks,” TransCanada CEO Russ Girling told The Globe and Mail.