Canadian official to talk Keystone with State Department, Sen. Wyden

The visit is part of a wider effort by Canadian officials to sway the White House on the pipeline. It comes on the heels of a pair of Keystone speeches this week by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver in Chicago and Houston, Alberta Premier Alison Redford's trip to Washington, D.C. during the National Governors Association meeting and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's February meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry.

Wall's meeting with Kerri-Ann Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, will center on the public comment process for that State Department draft environmental report.

The report said Keystone would not accelerate oil sands production and that it would do little to exacerbate climate change.

Those findings brushed aside the main arguments environmental groups have made to oppose the pipeline. They plan to challenge the draft through the 45-day public comment period, which they will press the State Department to extend.

That possibility will likely surface in the conversation between Wall and Jones.

Wall's message to Jones and other administration officials is that Canada is working to protect the environment, and that it would not promote Keystone if "the environmental death and destruction foretold by the environmental groups" was true.

He said he hopes proving Canada's commitment to the environment and cutting greenhouse gas emissions would give President Obama "elbow room" to approve Keystone. Obama alone has the power to decide the pipeline's fate because it crosses national borders.

Business groups, Republicans, centrist Democrats and some unions in Obama's base back the project, saying it would create jobs and give the U.S. oil from a friendly neighbor.

Green groups oppose the pipeline, and have characterized the upcoming decision as a referendum on Obama's climate record.

Many congressional Democrats also want Obama to nix Keystone, and several have questions about State Department's draft report.

Wyden is one of those Democrats.

While State Department draft report said Keystone would displace fossil fuels imported from other regions, several Democrats and green groups contend Keystone is largely for exports.

They fear green-lighting the pipeline would facilitate greater global use of fossil fuels — especially more carbon-intensive oil sands — while nixing it would keep them in the ground.

“The State Department needs to explain how it is in America’s national and economic interests to facilitate Keystone XL’s completion, especially if the pipeline is simply a conduit for oil and refined products to go elsewhere that makes the United States less energy secure and drives domestic gas prices higher," Wyden said in a statement last week.

Wall said his meeting with Wyden would tackle the Oregon Democrat's concerns about the pipeline's potential to expand fossil fuel exports.

"The vast, vast majority is about supply for this particular country," Wall said.

— This story was updated at 12:29 p.m.