Keystone XL —- proposal causes U.S. media clash

Keystone XL pipeline proposal causes U.S. media clash. When it comes to choosing sides in the debate over TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline, the American media seems every bit as divided as U.S. members of Congress and the Obama administration. In its lead editorial on Friday, the New York Times urged President Barack Obama to reject construction of the 3,200-kilometres pipeline from Alberta to Texas because the project is “not only environmentally risky, it is unnecessary.” The Times editorialists took a sharply different view of Calgary-based TransCanada’s Keystone XL project than one of its major news competitors — the Washington Post — did when it weighed in on the pipeline following Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit to the White House in February. The Post said Obama should “say yes to this pipeline” if it clears the environmental hurdles. Both newspapers denounced oilsands crude itself. The Post called it “nasty,” while the Times has adopted the pejorative “tarsands,” the term favoured by environmental opponents. But while the Post said the pipeline could be justified, the Times said cited a Department of Energy study that found existing pipelines have ample capacity to handle increased Canadian oil imports to the U.S. The Times, which has the nation’s third largest circulation and has outsized influence among Washington policy-makers, argued the pipeline’s construction would do little to ease rising U.S. gasoline prices. “Moving ahead (with Keystone XL) would be a huge error,” the Times said. Moreover, the newspaper denounced the “destruction of forests” in northern Alberta’s oilsands region. And it said the environmental threat posed by the pipeline is “enormous” not only in Canada but in the United States, where Keystone XL would cross a major groundwater aquifer along its proposed Great Plains route. The newspaper cited the spill in Michigan last summer of 800,000 gallons of oilsands crude from a pipeline operated by Calgary-based Enbridge. “The Keystone XL would cut diagonally across Montana and the Nebraska Sand Hills — a delicate region of porous, sandy soils — to northern Kansas before heading south to the Gulf,” the editorial said. “It would also cross the Ogallala Aquifer, a shallow underground reservoir of enormous importance for agriculture that also provides drinking water for two million people. A pipeline leaking diluted bitumen into groundwater could have disastrous consequences.” The Times offered its opinion following a week of lively debate in the U.S. capital over the project’s future. On Wednesday, Obama singled out Canada as a “steady and stable and reliable” supplier of oil to the U.S. at a time when his administration announced plans to cut imports of foreign oil by one third over the next decade. Republicans in Congress, however, held hearings later in the week accusing Obama of delaying approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. The State Department last month announced it would conduct a supplemental environmental impact study of Keystone XL to address concerns about pipeline safety and greenhouse gas emissions produced in the production of oilsands crude. The State Department has the authority to approve or reject Keystone XL because it would cross an international boundary. The pipeline would run from Hardisty, Alta. to U.S. refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Canada is the largest supplier of foreign oil to the U.S., providing about 23 per cent of America’s imports. ((04 APR 2011))




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