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NEWS: Kent, Doer continue to back Keystone XL

CBC reports, “On Wednesday, Canadian aboriginals called upon Gary Doer, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, to stop promoting the pipeline specifically, and Alberta’s oilsands generally, as part of his duties in the American capital. A group of about two dozen native activists, accompanied by Council of Canadians head Maude Barlow, marched upon the Canadian embassy on Pennsylvania Avenue on Wednesday to present a letter to Doer, who was in Winnipeg at the time. In his absence, they presented the letter to embassy official Chris Plunkett, who emerged from the building to greet them. …Plunkett assured the protesters that Doer would be given their letter as soon as he returned to the U.S. capital.”

“In her remarks to the tiny crowd of media outside the embassy, Barlow chastised Doer. ‘It is not the role of Ambassador Gary Doer to be acting as chief salesman for the energy industry in Canada; this is not his job,’ she said. Thomas-Mueller agreed. ‘He needs to stop meddling in international policy affairs in foreign countries and pushing our dirty Canadian oilsands to U.S. markets,’ he said.”

But Doer was on CBC-TV on Wednesday evening, continuing to defend the pipeline.

And on Thursday, “Environment minister Peter Kent has voiced his support for TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline, as protests against the project continue in Washington. …Kent praised TransCanada’s track record, and said there was a lot of ‘misinformation’ and ‘non-science’ behind some of the protesters’ accusations. …Kent said he had talked to his American counterpart, Lisa Jackson, at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about the pipeline, but acknowledged that defending the project was really ‘beyond my file’.”

The article does not elaborate on Kent’s discussion with Jackson, but the EPA has been expressing serious concerns about the pipeline, particularly with respect to emissions from the tar sands, pollution from refineries, and the impact of a pipeline spill on the Ogallala aquifer.

The Globe and Mail adds, “I think we can look forward to eventual approval by the American government’, Kent told reporters when asked about the pipeline. …’The environmental concerns I think of everyone are very real… and it’s a matter of better informing those who might not understand directly what the project would entail and at the same time ensuring that the project as it goes forward – assuming it will – is done in the most environmentally sensitive way,’ he said.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to meet with US President Barack Obama this fall, before the president makes his year-end decision on Keystone XL. When they last met in February in Washington, Harper encouraged Obama to approve the pipeline.