Canadian pipeline TransCanada wants to build the Keystone XL pipeline to carry oil from tar sands projects in Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the southern U.S. coast. Critics point to the potential harm to water aquifers, migratory bird pathways and the corrosive nature of tar sands as reasons to reject the project.
Backers say the project is good for the U.S. economy and energy security.
Steve Kretzmann, an official at Oil Change International, a Keystone XL opponent, was quoted by the Billings (Mont.) Gazette as saying oil companies will sell their products in the best market. For TransCanada, that means overseas markets, he claimed.
"Those are growing markets," he said. "That's what we base the assertion that this is primarily an export pipeline on."
But Bill Day, a spokesman for Valero, one of the companies signed up for Keystone's crude, said those assertions weren't based on reality.
"Exports are an important part of our marketing effort but it's a small part," he was quoted as saying. "There is nothing about Keystone XL pipeline that's going to change that. It's not set up to be an export pipeline."