TORONTO (AP) — Canada's foreign minister said Thursday it's time for the Obama administration to make a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline even if the answer is no.
"The time for a decision on Keystone is now, even if it's not the right one," John Baird said during a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. "We can't continue in this state of limbo."
Obama is expected to decide early this year on the pipeline, which is under review at the State Department. Some advocates fear another delay with the US mid-term elections approaching.
TransCanada's pipeline would carry 700,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta and the U.S. Bakken across six U.S. states to refineries in the Texas Gulf Coast. Republicans, the Canadian government and business and labor groups, have long urged the Obama administration to approve the pipeline as a source of much-needed jobs and a step toward North American energy independence. Environmental groups have been pressuring Obama to reject the pipeline, saying it would carry "dirty oil" that contributes to global warming. They also worry about a spill.
Baird warned if no new pipelines are built Canadian and Bakken-area oil would instead be shipped to the U.S. Gulf Coast by rail.
"Compared to sending by pipelines, sending by rail causes higher greenhouse-gas emissions and raises the per-mile incident rate," Baird said.
Concerns have been raised about the increasing use of rail to transport oil throughout North America. Several recent derailments have worried both officials and residents close to rail lines. In July, 47 people were killed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, when a train with 72 oil tankers derailed and exploded in the small community.