Keystone developer says new regulations justify the project

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Recent Canadian action on climate change helps justify the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a TransCanada executive said in a letter to Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryJohnson links Dem opponent to Clinton email scandal Senate poised to override Obama veto Overnight Defense: Debate night is here | Senate sets vote on 9/11 veto override | Kerry, McCain spar over Syria MORE this week. 

The Alberta government’s hike of the province’s carbon tax, as well as Canada’s commitment to international climate change agreements, means the Keystone project has to meet high environmental standards in both Canada and the United States, Kristine Delkus, TransCanada's executive vice president and general counsel, wrote in the letter.

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The United States government has been reviewing TransCanada’s application to build the Keystone pipeline for seven years. President Obama has said the project should only go forward if it doesn’t add to the problem of carbon pollution, something Delkus said will be proven by the new regulatory actions in Canada.

“There have been a number of recent and highly significant governmental policy developments related to carbon emissions and climate change concerns,” she wrote. “Each of these are directly relevant to the President’s statement that the proposed project will not be determined to be in the national interest absent a finding that it would not ‘significantly exacerbate’ climate change.”

In May, the Canadian government said it would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and issue regulations to get there. The country also joined other G-7 nations in pledging to reduce their reliance on fossil-fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent to 70 percent by 2050. 

The newly-elected left wing Alberta government said last week that it would double its carbon tax by 2017 in an effort to encourage fewer carbon emissions from the province and its oil sands.

If the Canadian governments take those steps, Delkus wrote, they would ensure what the company says is Keystone’s limited impact on the environment. The pipeline, she said, would also fulfill the need for more American energy infrastructure investment and relieve oil movement on railways.

“Clearly the developments with respect to Canadian, Alberta, North American, and international [greenhouse gas] policy, as well as recent industry positions and technological developments are all consistent with the President’s stance on not exacerbating the risk of climate change, as is TransCanada’s own clean energy footprint,” she wrote. 

Congress passed a bill authorizing construction of the pipeline in February, but President Obama vetoed it. Kerry is reviewing final comments on the pipeline and will soon send a recommendation on the project to Obama, but there’s no deadline for when that might happen.