Canadian officials are debating the prospects for plans by energy company Enbridge to build its Northern Gateway pipeline to carry an estimated 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day from tar sands projects in Alberta to the west coast for exports to Asian markets.
Their debate comes as Republican lawmakers pressure U.S. President Barack Obama to sign off on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, a project planned by Canadian pipeline company TransCanada to bring oil from Alberta to refineries along the southern U.S. coast.
"The president obviously recognizes how vital this relationship is to our economic and national security, yet somehow he continues to ignore our northern neighbor when it comes to our energy security," the Republican-led House Energy and Commerce Committee said in a statement. "And the president's negligence is causing Canada to rethink its future plans."
Crude oil from Alberta tar sands is considered by environmental advocacy groups the dirtiest form of oil on the planet. They complain the emissions tied to tar sands production and the corrosive nature of that type of oil make it far too risky to exploit.
A law extending payroll tax benefits in the United States contained a measure that gave the U.S. president until mid-February to determine whether Keystone XL is in the national interest.