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Former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed opposes the Keystone X-L pipeline on economic grounds. (CP)

Former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed is adding his voice to the opposition to the controversial Keystone X-L pipeline project.

However his opposition is based on economic reasons, rather than environmental.

"We should be refining the bitumen in Alberta and we should make it public policy in the province," he said. 

The U.S. State Department is considering a proposal to extend the pipeline which would carry oil from Alberta's oilsands to Texas with a decision expected by the end of the year.

Environmentalists have been aggressively protesting the line saying the heavy oil, or bitumen, that would flow through the line is dirty, toxic and corrosive.

Lougheed told Anna Maria Tremonti of CBC Radio's The Current Tuesday the bitumen should be refined in Alberta.

"I would prefer...we process the bitumen from the oilsands in Alberta and that would create a lot of jobs and job activity," he said.

"That would be a better thing to do than merely send the raw bitumen down the pipeline and they refine it in Texas that means thousands of new jobs in Texas."

Lougheed said groups fighting the Keystone X-L pipeline have approached him about speaking out against the pipeline.

So far he's resisted saying it wouldn't be fair to speak out during the leadership contest to replace outgoing premier Ed Stelmach.

Lougheed championed the oilsands in the 1970s and under his leadership the provincial government invested in its development.

While he continues to favour development, he told The Current he would like to see the province control the rapid growth in northeast Alberta.