Keystone builder 'extremely confident' Obama will approve it

The chief executive for Keystone XL oil sands pipeline builder TransCanada Corp. says he is “extremely confident” the White House will approve the project.

TransCanada Corp. CEO Russ Girling said he hopes the State Department will complete its environmental review of the Canada-to-Texas pipeline by mid-summer. Foggy Bottom would then need to make a determination of national interest for the project, which Girling said he hopes would take no longer than 90 days.

“I have never been involved in a process that has lasted this long. We're not reinventing the wheel here,” he said, according to excerpts of an interview with Bloomberg Government’s Capitol Gains that will air Sunday.

“I remain extremely confident that we'll get the green light to build this pipeline."

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Republicans, industry and some unions that support Keystone have accused President Obama of dragging his feet on a decision to grant TransCanada a cross-border permit to finish pipeline’s northern leg.

They say the project could bring immediate short-term construction jobs and enhance U.S. energy security.

But green groups and many Democrats say the proponents’ jobs claims are overstated, and contend much of the crude is destined for export. They also say the carbon-intensive oil sands carried through Keystone would ramp up greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating climate change.

Girling said arguments that Keystone is a choice between the environment and the economy are "simply not true." He suggested the pipeline would tamp down greenhouse gas emissions by displacing imports arriving on oil-powered tankers.

“It's a win-win for both parties,” Girling said when asked if he had a message for Obama on the pipeline. “If you deny the pipeline it's a lose-lose. We lose jobs. We lose economic development and we lose energy security. And it likely leads to greater emissions in GHG.”

TransCanada and Canadian officials have long rejected oil sands pose a significant threat to greenhouse gas emission concentrations.

They point to the State Department’s draft environmental review that said Keystone wouldn’t accelerate oil sands production or devastate the climate. The draft suggested rail transport would move the oil sands regardless.

The Environmental Protection Agency, however, has disputed that finding.