US, Canadian officials predict Keystone approval by April

 

Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer agreed that the Keystone XL pipeline would attain its presidential permit by April 2015, whether President Obama does it himself or Congress forces his hand.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to vote Wednesday to mandate approval of the final segment of the pipeline that is planned to run from Alberta’s oil sands to the Gulf Coast, and the House has previously voted to approve it.

Hoeven predicted that Congress would force the permit.

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“Right now we have 57 hard yeses in the Senate on Keystone,” Hoeven said at an event hosted by the Canadian American Business Council at Canada’s Embassy. “When we have 60 firm, then we’ll pass it.”

But Hoeven was not sure that the Senate would reach the filibuster-proof 60 votes before the election.

“I think there’s a very good chance that not too long after the first of the year, we’ll be at that 60 threshold,” he said, pinpointing March or April as a likely timeframe.

Doer agreed with the vote count, but said that things are different north of the border.

“The votes are between 57 and 62 in the Senate,” he said. “We believe in Canada that if it’s above 50 percent, it should be a ‘yes.’ ”

Doer predicted that Obama would decide to approve the pipeline “when he uses science.” The science has shown that pipelines use less energy than rail, cost less to use and are much safer.

“I wouldn’t want my legacy to be saying no to oil in Canada and rely on oil from Venezuela and the Middle East,” Doer said of Obama. “I wouldn’t want my legacy to be greater safety risks in major cities in the United States, and I wouldn’t want my legacy to be saying no to Keystone and saying yes to higher greenhouse gases.”

Specifically, Doer expects Obama to approve the pipeline before the United States hits its debt ceiling, which will come sometime in March 2015.

Before the senator was elected in 2011 and the ambassador was appointed in 2009, Hoeven was governor of North Dakota and Doer was premier of neighboring Manitoba, both jurisdictions with high concentrations of oil and natural gas.