Thursday, February 20, 2014

Obama & Harper diverge on Keystone XL Pipeline - Three Amigos, North American Leaders' Summit

Although President Obama has accused members of congress of dragging their feet on various pieces of legislation that he supports and that he claims would boost the US economy - it is the President, who, over the last five years, has dragged his feet on the Keystone XL Pipeline project despite the immense economic benefit the project would provide to countless of American families.

During a press conference Wednesday at the North American Leaders' Summit - often referred to as "the Three Amigos Summit" - a Canadian reporter cited a State Department environmental report that concluded the Keystone pipeline would not have a significant effect on climate change.

The reporter then asked President Obama: "What more needs to be done on both sides of the [Canada/US] border for this project to go ahead?" The reporter also asked Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to weigh in on the matter.

President Obama responded: "There is a process that has been gone through, and I know it's been extensive, and at times I'm sure Stephen feels a little too laborious. But these are how we make these decisions about something that could potentially have a significant impact on America's national economy and our national interests."

"The State Department has gone through its review," the president added. "There's now a comment period in which other agencies weigh in. That will be evaluated by Secretary of State Kerry, and we'll make a decision at that point."

Mr. Harper told the reporter that Canada and the U.S. have a "shared concern" about climate change, but, he added, "In terms of climate change, I think the State Department report already was pretty definitive on that particular issue."

"My views in favor of the project are very well known," Harper said.
"[President Obama's] views on the 'process' are also equally well known, and we had that discussion and we'll continue on that discussion."

Mr. Harper didn't appear to be overly enthused by the Obama administration's lengthy, and multiple, environmental review process - due to the detrimental effect that the prolonged process, and unestablished timeline, has on investors.

"As you know, a couple of years ago we [Canadians] moved to reform our system so that we have a single (environmental) review wherever possible — a single review, a multidimensional review that happens over a fixed timeline," Harper said. "And I think that is a process that is tremendously useful in giving investors greater certainty in terms of the kind of plans they may have in the Canadian economy."

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