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Round up: TransCanada bitumen pipeline critics multiply

Alaska Dispatch

TransCanada Corp. is leading an effort to build a pipeline that would increase the amount of bitumen (a crude petroleum liquid) flowing from western Canada to refineries in the U.S. Midwest. There has been a fair amount of disagreement over the project, known as "Keystone XL," already. But this week, following an April 2 New York Times editorial (which Canadian Premier Ed Stelmach responded to directly) with a strong stance against the proposed pipeline, U.S. politicians are expressing concerns about, primarily so far, the project's potential impact on the domestic U.S. oil market, the environment, and goals encouraging clean energy.

According to Postmedia News (via the Calgary Herald), President Obama has for the first time spoken publicly about the Keystone project, which is currently under U.S. State Department review at the request of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The president affirmed the importance of Canadian oil to the U.S. economy, but in referring to the Keystone project, he used the pejorative term "tarsands" and called the mining techniques used in those deposits "destructive." Although the president came short of stating an opinion on Keystone XL, he said that his administration still has unanswered questions. Since the project would cross an international border, the State Department can issue or deny the project a presidential permit.

And according to Canada's Globe and Mail, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, has sent a letter urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate possible anti-trust violations on the part of TransCanada and a group of companies that would ship product in the Keystone line. Senator Wyden cited testimony made by a TransCanada consultant several years ago in front of Canada's National Energy Board.