By Zack Colman - 03/18/13 04:19 PM EDT
They have pressed President Obama, lawmakers and state governors for their support, especially in the past several weeks. Washington, D.C. has hosted a slew of Canadian officials, including Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Alberta Premier Alison Redford.
Ultimately, the Keystone decision rests with Obama because it crosses national borders.
Aside from Canada, the pipeline’s friends include powerful business groups and some unions. They say the project would spur economic activity, create jobs and give the U.S. oil from an ally.
Environmentalists have tried to make it difficult for Obama to approve the pipeline. They contend it would add few permanent jobs — the State Department estimates 35 — and that doing so would betray Obama’s comments about the need to combat climate change.
But a recent State Department draft review of Keystone gave the pipeline a passing environmental grade, saying it wouldn’t accelerate oil sands production or devastate the climate.
Alberta’s government referenced that review in its Sunday advertisement, saying, “[S]ome still argue Keystone should be decided on emotion rather than science and fact about Canada’s responsibly developed oil sands resource.”
The draft review is currently in the midst of a 45-day comment period.
The White House also attempted to downplay Keystone’s environmental impact on Friday.
“Thousands of miles of pipelines have been built since President Obama took office inside the United States of America and it hasn’t had a measurable impact on climate change,” Josh Earnest, White House deputy press secretary, told reporters aboard Air Force One.
Earnest instead said policies such as new vehicle fuel economy standards rolled out under Obama have done more to address climate change.
Obama has pledged to take executive action to ratchet down emissions if Congress cannot pass legislation to do so.
“I would encourage you to tune in and watch the President as he continues to put forward some policies that will do something serious to address the problem of climate change,” Earnest said.