BISMARCK, N.D. _ Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., issued another call Wednesday for approval of the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline while in Bismarck for part of a two-day trade summit.
Joining Hoeven’s call was Canadian Ambassador to the United States Gary Doer, who was in town to speak at the Transportation and Trade Beyond Borders Summit at the Ramkota hotel.
“We believe it just makes sense to go with this pipeline,” Doer said.
The Keystone pipeline would stretch from the Canadian province of Alberta to the Gulf Coast. Of the total pipeline capacity of 830,000 barrels of oil per day, 100,000 barrels per day has been promised to Bakken crude.
The majority of the oil traveling through the pipeline would be Canadian oil from the Athabasca Oil Sands in Alberta. Opponents have cited environmental concerns along portions of the pipeline’s route. Republican lawmakers, including Hoeven, have argued that the pipeline would create thousands of jobs and increase infrastructure capacity for shipping crude.
The proposed 1,700-mile pipeline has been under review for more than five years. Review is required because it would cross an international border.
Doer said the fifth and final environmental impact statement, released in January, found the pipeline poses no significant harm to the environment.
“It is very, very clear that this pipeline should be approved,” Doer said.
He noted that the EIS also stated regardless of whether a presidential permit is given to construct the pipeline, Canadian oil will find its way to market.
“Do we have prepared routes to the East and to the West? Yes, we do,” Doer said.
Hoeven said the Canadian government has “bent over backwards” to work with the U.S. following several delays to review the controversial project.
Since his election to the Senate in 2010, Hoeven has been involved in multiple pushes to expedite a final decision. They include a resolution declaring the pipeline’s construction in the nation’s best interest and a failed attempt to use congressional authority to approve the project.
TransCanada, the Calgary, Alberta-based energy company behind the project, has already built the southern leg of the $5.4 billion pipeline. It began moving crude from Cushing, Okla. to Port Arthur, Texas, in January.
“I think we’re going to get it approved this year,” Hoeven said.
Infrastructure to transport the growing amount of oil and gas being recovered in the U.S. is needed to both reach markets for the product and to ensure energy independence, he said. It’s also an issue of providing capacity to ship oil, he said.
“We can’t move all this product by rail,” Hoeven said.
He said work would begin on the northern leg of the pipeline if final approval on a permit is given. There are legislative options available to push for action on the pipeline if approval isn’t given, he said.