EDMONTON – Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said Friday afternoon she wasn’t surprised by the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline by U.S. President Barack Obama. However, she said the wording used to describe Alberta oil “isn’t helpful.”
“Though I am not surprised by the news coming from the White House this morning as we have an anticipated this announcement for some time, I am disappointed by the way the U.S. government chose to characterize our energy exports,” the premier said.
Notley said she is disappointed that Obama chose to disparage Alberta’s main export product as “dirty oil.” The premier said it’s confusing logic, given that Canada exports about 3 million barrels of oil to the United States every day.
The Keystone line would have taken Alberta crude across North America to ports and refineries in Texas – a critical access point to get oil overseas. Obama said the economic benefits to the pipeline did not outweigh the environmental risks.
“The decision today underlines the need to improve our environmental record and enhance our reputation so we can achieve our goal of building Canada’s energy infrastructure, including pipelines, to new markets,” said Notley.
“Canada is the only country in the world that actually doesn’t have access to global markets,” said Shell Canada President Lorraine Mitchelmore, “so it’s really important to us, but it is one pipeline of a number of pipelines that we’re looking at.”
“Keystone was one option,” added Shell CEO Ben van Beurden. “There are other options that can be pursued, eventually a number of these will have to emerge for us to be able to unlock the resource that is here.”
The premier said she’ll work everyday to support Alberta’s energy sector and believes Alberta’s environmental record was one of many factors that led to the Keystone decision.
“We are going to work very hard to build and maintain our relationship with the U.S.”
Notley said her government has been focusing on pipeline projects that have the best chance of success, including Energy East.
She said the NDP is also working on a new climate change plan.
“We’re working hard with stakeholders and we intend to act decisively to increase the likelihood of getting our product to tidewater.”
WATCH: While there wasn’t a great deal of shock, Alberta stakeholders did express disappointment, not only with the decision, but the wording used during Obama’s address. Shallima Maharaj explains.
Notley spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Friday about how this needs to be a national priority and said he agreed they need to work collaboratively.
Trudeau said he was “disappointed” by the decision but respects the right of the U.S. to make the decision.
“The Canada-U.S. relationship is much bigger than any one project and I look forward to a fresh start with President Obama to strengthen our remarkable ties in a spirit of friendship and co-operation,” said Trudeau.
“We know that Canadians want a government that they can trust to protect the environment and grow the economy. The Government of Canada will work hand-in-hand with provinces, territories and like-minded countries to combat climate change, adapt to its impacts, and create the clean jobs of tomorrow.”
Alberta opposition leader Brian Jean condemned Obama’s rejection.
“It’s deeply disappointing the current White House administration rejected a pipeline that would have secured North America’s energy security, and meant tens-of-thousands of jobs for both Albertans and Americans,” said the Wildrose Party leader. “We are glad TransCanada remains committed to this project.”
“Wildrose rejects the assertion made today that Alberta oil is somehow dirtier than products in America or imported across the world.
“It is simply false and misleading. Both Venezuela and California oil fields have higher per-barrel emissions,” said Jean.
Jean also blamed Alberta’s NDP government and premier for not doing enough to stand up for Alberta oil.
“We need to ask what our leadership here in Alberta is doing to respond to this crisis,” he said, describing Friday’s Keystone announcement as “mission accomplished” for the NDP.
The Alberta PC Caucus also said “this government won’t defend Alberta’s oil and gas industry and the good work it’s been doing.”
Scroll down to read the full statement from PC Energy Critic Rick Fraser.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall also said the decision was disappointing, “not only for our energy sector but also for the signal it sends about Canada-U.S. relations.”
However, Greenpeace claimed the veto should send a message to Trudeau.
“President Obama just sent a message that Prime Minister Trudeau should heed: you can’t be a climate leader while supporting tar sands pipelines,” said Mike Hudema. “Public opposition to Energy East and other tar sands pipelines gets stronger by the day and any reasonable climate plan is doomed to failure if the booming emissions from the tar sands aren’t reigned in.
“The prime minister needs to follow the president’s lead and recognize that science demands and the public wants action on climate change and that can’t be done while expanding the tar sands. Prime Minister Trudeau has a huge opportunity to lead the transition to diversify Canada’s economy, reduce its emissions and lead the green transition.”
U.S. President Barack Obama has formally rejected an application from TransCanada to build the Keystone XL, ending seven years of debate over the controversial project.
Obama made the announcement Friday alongside Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden during a press conference at the White House.
The news comes after Washington formally denied a request on Wednesday to pause the review of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. The request from TransCanada was seen by many as an attempt to postpone the decision until after the presidential election in 2016.
TransCanada issued a statement Friday and said it is considering all options, including filing a new application for a presidential permit.
“We are disappointed with the President’s decision to deny the Keystone XL application,” said president and CEO Russ Girling.
“Today, misplaced symbolism was chosen over merit and science – rhetoric won out over reason.”
The company referenced five reviews of the project since 2010 that found Keystone XL is “the safest, most environmentally sound way to transport needed energy to Americans.” It also said its reviews found that “approval or denial of Keystone XL would be unlikely to significantly impact the rate of production in the oil sands.”
“Numerous independent studies have consistently concluded that the safest way to transport oil is in a modern, safe pipeline,” said Girling.
“In Canada, the U.S. denial impacts citizens across our nation at a time when jobs, economic stimulus and competitiveness are critical for the country,” he added.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said the U.S. decision ignores pipeline merits and that Canadian oil will find new paths to American markets.
Scroll down to read CAPP’s full statement.
Simon Dyer, the Alberta director at the Pembina Institute, said Obama’s decision shouldn’t come as a surprise. Dyer said the U.S. government previously brought up some concerns with the environmental impacts.
“Today’s decision by President Obama reiterates that climate change is a key consideration for all energy infrastructure projects going forward,” said Dyer.
“In his statement, the president noted that his decision is motivated in part by a desire to ‘lead by example’ on the need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change.
“Canada still has no federal regulations for carbon emissions from our oil and gas sector, and Alberta’s existing emissions regulation has not been able to cut carbon emissions from the oilsands.”
He added that addressing climate impacts is “the new normal” for major energy infrastructure projects.
With files from Andrew Russell, Global News; The Associated Press and The Canadian Press