Canadian resources minister talks Keystone with senators

Canadian Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford is making the round in Washington this week to talk energy and the Keystone XL pipeline. 

On Tuesday, Rickford met separately with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction MORE (D-N.D.) as the Senate kicks off a weeks-long debate over legislation to approve the $8 billion oil pipeline project. 

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An aide to Heitkamp said the senator talked with Rickford about the debate playing out in the Senate, and ways to move forward despite the White House's veto threat to the bill.

Heitkamp also talked to Rickford about how to ensure future pipeline projects "go more smoothly" than Keystone's permitting process in the U.S., the aide said.  

In a statement Tuesday evening, Rickford thanked Heitkamp for supporting the pipeline. 

“Senator Heitkamp is a leader among Senate Democrats in her public support for the Keystone XL pipeline," Rickford said. "Both the United States and Canada have dramatically reduced oil imports, while our oil imports from each other are at record highs."

Rickford added that Canada hopes the State Department would approve the project soon, arguing that "delays can have a negative impact on environmental performance and economic growth in Canada and the United States."

Rickford talked about increasing energy collaboration between the two country with both senators to help push North America toward energy independence. 

Canadian ambassador Gary Doer also attended both meetings. 

Later on Tuesday, Rickford joined Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizWhat we learned from the first Green New Deal Overnight Energy: GOP pushes back on climate | 2018 was fourth hottest year on record | Park Service reverses on using fees Pompeo: Kerry's conversations with Iran 'unseemly and unprecedented' MORE to sign an agreement to increase collaboration on nuclear energy research and development.

The agreement established a framework for the U.S. and Canada to work together on improving the cost, safety, efficiency and proliferation resistance of nuclear energy systems.