GOP governors, Canadian leader press Obama to approve Keystone pipeline

Ten GOP governors and the premier of Saskatchewan are putting fresh pressure on President Obama to greenlight the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

Premier Brad Wall and the governors, in a letter to Obama Thursday, call the project “fundamentally important” to the future economic prosperity of the United States and Canada.

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The letter is part of an intense political and lobbying battle as the White House inches closer to a decision on whether to permit Keystone, a project that major business groups and many unions want but environmentalists bitterly oppose.

Canada is already the biggest supplier of oil to the U.S., and the letter argues that approving TransCanada Corp.’s project would further boost imports from a friendly neighbor.

“With the Keystone XL Pipeline, U.S. imports from Canada, a democratic friend and ally, could reach 4 million barrels a day by 2020, twice what is currently imported from the Persian Gulf,” the letter states.

In addition to moving oil from Alberta’s oil sands projects, the letter notes that Keystone would provide the “critical infrastructure” needed to transport growing oil production from the booming Bakken region in North Dakota and Montana to refineries.

The governors of Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming signed the letter, which also touts Keystone as a job-creating project.

“As legislators and decision-makers, we felt it imperative to speak up for a project that will contribute greatly to a safe, secure and long-term energy supply for North America,” Wall said in a statement. “We need greater pipeline capacity to move the oil – Canadian and American – that is vital to our shared goal of North American energy security.”

While the pipeline would move oil from Alberta’s oil sands projects, Wall’s office said the project is also important for Saskatchewan, which is part of the Bakken oil formation that underlies portions of North Dakota and Montana.

An announcement of the letter notes that the project would ease pipeline capacity “for all jurisdictions that share this dynamic oil play, including Saskatchewan, North Dakota and Montana.”