Interview with Alberta's Energy Minister Ron Liepert. Chris Hall asks him if the Canadian government is doing enough to get the Obama administration on board with the Keystone XL pipeline project.
This week on The House, guest-host Chris Hall looks at the battle brewing over the Keystone XL pipeline project. He speaks to U.S. Democratic Congressman from Tennessee Steve Cohen and Alberta's Energy Minister Ron Liepert. Are U.S. Democrats justified in raising concerns about the pipeline before giving the project the green light? And does Alberta think the Canadian government is doing enough to get the Obama administration on board?
Alberta's energy minister says he's going to push the federal government to more actively promote TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline to the American government.
In an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio's The House, Ron Liepert said he expects to meet with Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver before the federal-provincial energy ministers conference at the end of July and will push for some help convincing the Americans to approve the pipeline.
"I'm certainly going to try to persuade him that the federal government, now that they have a majority, needs to take a more active role in promoting this project," Liepert told host Chris Hall.
"The resource development of western Canada is fuelling the Canadian economic engine," he said, adding Canada can't be reliant on one market if the country is to be a global energy power.
Keystone's pipeline would more than double the volume of oil shipped from Canada into the U.S. But the $7 billion project has vocal opponents south of the border.
Critics don't like the idea of what they call the "dirtiest oil in the world" making the trip from Alberta through the American Midwest to Texas.
It's too soon to know whether the federal Conservatives have done enough to help the project, he said, although Prime Minister Stephen Harper has raised the issue with U.S. President Barack Obama.
Liepert said opponents of fossil fuels are ramping up their rhetoric because they realize the pipeline will eventually be approved by the U.S. State Department.
"We've always felt this is an unnecessary delay," he said.
But Steve Cohen, a Democratic congressman from Tennessee, said the permitting process in his state isn't strong enough. Cohen said he's also worried about relying on fossil fuels, something he describes as the enemy of Mother Earth.
"My concern is that we not continue to rely on these type of fuels, especially dirty fuels, when we ought to be getting into all kinds of efforts, this nation and Canada and all over the world, to get around the problems of global warming which we're facing, and getting into alternative fuels," Cohen said.
Cohen said governments need to put money into new sources of energy, like wind, instead of into oil.
"If we keep putting money into pipelines and looking at using tarsands, which is a dirty, dirty oil, which will just simply more damage the planet, and [instead] spend money on those [alternative energy] areas, we could produce jobs."
The U.S. State Department is due to decide at the end of this year whether to grant TransCanada permission to build the pipeline.