Alison Redford: Keystone XL Report Proves Alberta's Policies Make Province An Environmental Leader

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The U.S. State Department's report on the Keystone XL pipeline may pave the way for the project's approval but as for Alison Redford, the report is also a vote of confidence for the province's environmental track record.

The tone of the Alberta premier's message, which she delivered moments after the report's results were made public, was positively upbeat compared to the mood that's surrounded pipeline talk in the Alberta legislature in recent months.

"I’m pleased that by respecting and actively participating in the process, our input has been accepted and understood," said Redford.

"It also recognizes Alberta’s progressive environmental initiatives which position our province as leader in responsible energy development.

"There is no doubt that Alberta’s commitment to environmental management firmly positions us as the safest, most secure and responsible energy supplier to the U.S."

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Political and public pressures against pipelines have been perceived as the single biggest threat to the provincial economy. The sentiment even permeates over party lines with the governing Tories, the Wildrose Party and the Liberals all stating stalled pipeline development can be the death knell of Alberta's powerful economy.

The Keystone XL, Northern Gateway, Energy East pipelines have all been named as critical to Alberta's economic future.

The Conservatives blamed the lack of pipeline capacity for the billions in debt the province found itself in last spring. The Tories said the low price of crude Alberta gets from oilsands bitumen and topped-up pipeline capacity led to what the Redford government referred to as the Bitumen Bubble.

The Keystone XL pipeline, that years ago seemed a sure thing, has seen mounting political opposition in the U.S. and its future has seemed at times shaky at best.

“Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States," the report says. "The dominant drivers of oil sands development are more global than any single infrastructure project."

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This latest report from the Barack Obama administration is the first clear sign the pipeline may actually meet with a favourable outcome.

Thus, Redford's new-found confidence was made clear through her statement Friday.

"The Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement is an important step toward approval of a pipeline that will build our economic partnership with our friends in the U.S. and help foster North American energy security and independence," said Redford.

“It will ensure fairer prices for the resources every Albertan owns, allowing us to invest in building a stronger, more secure Alberta.

“Alberta has always respected the U.S. decision-making process and we expect the President’s final decision will be based on science and fact, as confirmed in today’s Final Environmental Impact Statement.”

Keystone aims to carry oilsands crude from Hardisty in central Alberta, through the U.S. and to the Gulf Coast, where it can be shipped to overseas markets.

The decision of whether or not the pipeline goes ahead now rests in the Oval Office.

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