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UPDATE: Barlow says Obama needs to side with his people, not Harper, on the KXL pipeline

Last Sunday an estimated 50,000 people rallied against the KXL pipeline in Washington, DC.

Last Sunday an estimated 50,000 people rallied against the KXL pipeline in Washington, DC.

The New York Times reports, “President Obama faces a knotty decision in whether to approve the much-delayed Keystone oil pipeline: a choice between alienating environmental advocates who overwhelmingly supported his candidacy or causing a deep and perhaps lasting rift with Canada. …Its leaders have made it clear that an American rejection would be viewed as an unneighborly act and could bring retaliation. …Canadian leaders are cautious not to threaten the Obama administration directly, but they suggest that if the pipeline is not permitted, the close relationship between the countries will be damaged and Canada forced to look elsewhere, particularly to China, for new energy markets.”

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow responds, “The Obama administration has to choose between its own environmental advocates and its ally Canada? This is an overly simplified description of the situation. The real story here is the power of big oil on both sides of the border versus a growing movement in both Canada and the U.S. demanding an end to explosive growth in the tar sands and a transformation to an alternate and more sustainable energy future. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the most right wing, anti-environmental leader in Canadian history, sides with big oil and is putting enormous pressure on the U.S. government to play ball with his carbon-intensive economic platform. But the majority of Canadians do not agree with Mr Harper on this issue and stand with Americans who surrounded the White House this past Sunday in their determination to say no the the Keystone pipeline. President Obama should side with his people and not the insatiable energy industry and the Canadian Prime Minister who backs it.”

Foreign affairs minister John Baird, Canadian ambassador Gary Doer, and Conservative MP Rob Merrifield have all been lobbying in the US for approval of the pipeline. Alberta premier Alison Redford is in Washington this weekend to continue that lobbying. Earlier this month, she appointed David Manning as Alberta’s representative in Washington. Manning is a past president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

The decision by the Obama administration is expected sometime between June and September.