Report: Canada offers Obama Keystone trade

Canada’s CBC News reported Friday that Harper sent Obama the letter in late August. Here’s the key piece the CBC News story:

Sources told CBC News the prime minister is willing to accept targets proposed by the United States for reducing the climate-changing emissions and is prepared to work in concert with Obama to provide whatever political cover he needs to approve the project.

The letter, sent in late August, is a clear signal Canada is prepared to make concessions to get the presidential permit for TransCanada Corp.'s controversial $7-billion pipeline, which will connect the Alberta oilsands to refineries in Texas.

A spokesman for Harper told The Hill Friday that “we do not comment on correspondence between leaders.”

The Obama administration is weighing whether to grant a cross-border permit for the pipeline. Obama said in late June that he would only approve Keystone if it would not “significantly” worsen carbon pollution on a “net” basis.

The comment has raised speculation that new Canadian programs to curb emissions from carbon-intensive oil sands projects could help the project — which climate activists bitterly oppose — meet Obama’s test.

Obama, in a July New York Times interview, said “there is no doubt that Canada at the source in those tar sands could potentially be doing more to mitigate carbon release.”

“We haven't seen specific ideas or plans. But all of that will go into the mix in terms of [Secretary of State] John KerryJohn Forbes KerryWarren taps longtime aide as 2020 campaign manager In Virginia, due process should count more than blind team support Trump will give State of Union to sea of opponents MORE’s decision or recommendation on this issue,” said Obama, referring to the State Department’s lead role in the Keystone review.

While Harper’s office did not confirm the letter, spokesman Stephen Lecce said Harper always brings up Keystone when he sees Obama.

“The Prime Minister raises the job creating Keystone XL project every time he speaks with the President. The Keystone project is in both countries national interests and will create jobs and economic growth on both sides of the border while increasing North American energy security,” Lecce said in a statement.

But an array of environmental groups bashed the idea that new efforts to curb emissions in the oil sector could negate the climate effects of Keystone, a project that activists say would enable a major expansion of oil sands development.

“Canada cannot pursue its aggressive tar sands expansion facilitated by the Keystone XL pipeline and simultaneously protest the climate. Tar sands expansion is a recipe for climate failure and the Obama administration should reject any deal from the Harper government,” said Danielle Droitsch, the Canada project director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.