Brad Wall heads to Washington to push for pipeline

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall will be pushing for a pipeline and promoting Canadian energy in Washington, D.C., next week.

Wall said Tuesday he will be urging U.S. leaders to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would take bitumen from Alberta's oilsands to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

"I think it's very important for us to be engaged in the United States where people are at work, they are branding Canadian energy and Canadian oil," Wall said Tuesday. "The second largest exporter of oil to the United States is our province, and though we don't sell them oilsands oil, we sell them conventional oil, light sweet and medium heavy crude, we need to be there working on the branding issue, meeting with senior legislators in Washington to let them know a little bit about our province, to encourage support for Keystone."

Wall has been an outspoken supporter of Trans Canada Corporation's proposed $7 billion project.

He recently wrote a letter along with 10 U.S. governors urging U.S. President Barack Obama to approve the pipeline.

They said the pipeline is crucial for energy security and the future economic prosperity of both countries. They also said it will create thousands of jobs on both sides of the border.

Alberta's oilsands get most of the attention when it comes to the pipeline debate, but Wall has said Saskatchewan is affected by the pipeline capacity issue.

The inability to get western Canadian crude to the right markets is costing the economy, according to a report paid for by the Saskatchewan government.

The Canada West Foundation, a Calgary-based think-tank, said in the report released Feb. 7 that each stalled pipeline project means a loss to the Canadian economy of between $30 million and $70 million every day.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to make the final decision on Keystone this spring.

Kerry, who has been a climate change crusader, was non-committal on the fate of the project during a joint news conference with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in Washington earlier this month.

Wall also said he's concerned that Keystone's approval is being linked to Canadian domestic policy on greenhouse gas emissions.

Ambassador David Jacobson has said Obama's State of the Union address calling for swift action on climate change should also be interpreted as a challenge to Ottawa.

Wall said Canadians should be alarmed by suggestions that Americans would approve or reject a pipeline not on the merits of the project, but on domestic environmental policies.

"Imagine if this was the Bush White House and the Bush White House was saying 'Look, our approval for an important Canadian project in our country is contingent on you, Canada, changing your domestic policy in some area,' " said Wall. "Heads would explode and rightfully so. People would be apoplectic."

Wall said part of his message will be that Canada is doing its part when it comes to cutting greenhouse gases.

"It isn't Canada that has catching up to do, based on what the provinces are doing and what the federal government is doing, you could make the case that it's the Americans that are behind."

Wall's trip to Washington comes on the heels of a visit by Alberta Premier Alison Redford.

Redford also took her message on the Keystone XL pipeline across the United States Tuesday in the daily newspaper USA Today.

In a guest column published in the newspaper, Redford touted the benefits of the pipeline, but also emphasized Alberta's record on the environment and its commitment to reducing climate change.

"I think it helps when premiers are going to the same market, with the same message and ostensibly we are," said Wall.

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