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BC surfaces in charged US pipeline debate

British Columbia has just entered the charged debate over a controversial crude pipeline from Alberta to Texas. A powerful American lobby group is using the province to bolster its case in favour of the project.

The U.S. State Department recently held a public hearing on the future of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline. If approved, the project would transport an estimated 500,000 barrels of Canadian oil each day to American refineries.

The proposed pipeline route crosses one of the largest freshwater aquifers in the world. And as the Tyee reported last month, some farmers, ranchers and green groups are worried that a spill could devastate drinking water for two million people and ruin $20 billion worth of crops.

In fact, 50 U.S. congressmen recently wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with their concerns. (Powerful congressman Henry Waxman wrote his own letter this week).

The American Trucking Associations appeared in State Department hearings last week to support the project. Vice President Richard Moskowitz suggested that a competing B.C. pipeline – likely Enbridge’s equally controversial Northern Gateway project – would be worse for the environment.

“The carbon required to transport that oil from Alberta down to Houston is going to be less than the amount of carbon required to transport that oil across Canada, load it on super-tankers, and bring it to China – which is what will happen if we don’t use that oil here in the United States,” he said.

The ATA regularly spends millions of dollars each year lobbying Capitol Hill. It’s also fighting California’s low carbon fuel standard in court – a measure that will likely restrict imports from Alberta’s high-carbon emitting oil sands.

Another group, the Centre for North American Energy Security, is part of the litigation. As the Tyee recently reported, the Centre is helping lead an effort by the world’s biggest oil companies and Canadian politicians to keep Alberta oil flowing to the U.S.

Geoff Dembicki reports for the Tyee.

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