Tue Sep 27, 01:30 PM
Oliver: Protests will have little effect on pipeline planCTVNews.ca Staff
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said a protest Monday in Ottawa and one at the White House last month will have little effect on the joint Canada-U.S. plan to extend the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas.
About 400 people protested on Parliament Hill on Monday, and about 1,000 demonstrated outside the White House in August.
"I don't think they're going to have a significant impact, frankly," Oliver told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday.
"It's up to the secretary of state of the United States to determine whether the project is in the national interest and she will consider the final environmental impact statement which was commissioned by her department and which basically says there isn't any significant negative environmental impacts."
Opponents of the massive $7 billion Keystone XL project disagree, claiming the pipeline, which will carry bitumen -- one of the planet's dirtier forms of oil -- will threaten lands and water supplies.
The pipeline would be routed over Nebraska's Ogallala aquifer, which supplies water for drinking and agricultural irrigation to parts of eight U.S. states.
Critics also say the benefits are overstated and the long-term payoff is dubious.
Oliver dismissed the criticism, saying the conditions imposed will ensure the pipeline is among the safest ever built. He also said the project will result in 140,000 new jobs for Canadians and $600 billion in economic activity -- effects that will "reverberate across the country."
"There have been occasional accidents but it's a fact that pipelines are a safer form of transmission of hydrocarbons than the alternatives," Oliver said.
The bottom line, he said, is that Texas needs Canadian oil, and has the means to refine it.
Some critics have suggested that rather than send our oil south, Canada should instead build refineries in Alberta that have the capability of turning crude oil into usable fuel here.
Oliver said it would cost up to $20 billion to build the two refineries that would be required. And a pipeline network would still be required to distribute the refined oil, he said.
He said no new refineries have been built in Canada since the 1980s simply because doing so hasn't been economically viable for the private sector.
Environmentalists on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border have spoken out against the pipeline extension.
The Monday protest was expected to be one of the most public rebukes of the pipeline to date, following in the footsteps of the high-profile protest that took place outside the White House last month and involved more than 1,000 people.
However, the Ottawa protest remained tame, with many protesters climbing over a small barricade only to be politely arrested by police.
The rally in Ottawa was organized by Greenpeace and other groups that oppose the Keystone XL pipeline. Other groups involved include the Council of Canadians, the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Polaris Institute.