In comments delivered at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington on Thursday, Canadian foreign minister John Baird said bluntly that president Barack Obama’s administration is dragging its feet in making the final call on the northern leg of the controversial project.
“The time for Keystone is now. I’ll go further – the time for a decision on Keystone is now, even if it’s not the right one. We can’t continue in this state of limbo,” Reuters quoted Baird as saying.
Canada’s Conservative government strongly supports the pipeline that would carry crude produced from Alberta’s oil sands across the border and south to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
TransCanada is awaiting a decision from Obama on whether the key northern leg can go ahead. His administration has already approved the southern leg, which is currently under construction.
The decision is fraught with political weight for Obama. Proponents of the pipeline see it as an economic boon that will bring jobs and a steady supply of “friendly” oil to the US.
Environmentalists who largely make up Obama’s political base, however, are staunchly opposed to the pipeline which they see enabling increased production from a carbon-intensive resource at odds with Obama’s pledge to limit greenhouse gases.
TransCanada has been waiting for more than a year for a final decision that has been repeatedly pushed back.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and TransCanada have both expressed confidence that the US will eventually approve the 1200-mile pipeline, designed to carry 830,000 barrels per day.