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Keystone XL debate heated on 5th anniversary

Sept. 20, 2013 at 7:38 AM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Supporters and opponents of the planned Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada made dueling claims about the project's potential benefits on a key anniversary.

Thursday marked the 5th anniversary of the submission of an application by pipeline planner TransCanada to the U.S. State Department.

TransCanada is building its domestic leg of the project. It needs a federal permit for the cross-border section.

Supporters of the project say it will ensure North American energy security and provide a source of economic stimulus. Opponents say it's designed for exports and comes with too many environmental risks.

Alex Pourbaix, president of TransCanada's pipeline division, said in a statement Thursday he was frustrated the delay meant a lack of jobs, energy security and trade benefits.

Jane Kleeb, director of pipeline opponent Bold Nebraska, told the House Energy and Commerce Committee the lobbying effort behind Keystone XL was part of "a Hail Mary pass." She accused TransCanada of making a bad investment on Canadian oil sands, which opponents see as an environmental threat.

"[The pipeline] will help displace oil from unstable parts of the world and enhance our national security," American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard said Thursday.

U.S. President Barack Obama said he'd weigh the project against its environmental footprint. A draft assessment from the U.S. State Department said the environmental risks associated with oil sands would be prevalent with or without the pipeline.

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