OTTAWA, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Canada sees the planned Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline as a national priority after Washington shot down a rival project, a resource minister said.
The government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper kicked into high gear after the White House announced its objection to plans by TransCanada to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from Alberta to the southern U.S. coast.
Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said the Harper government was "obviously" disappointed by the Keystone XL decision. The government, however, was "moving ahead" with plans to exploit the economic gains from its vast oil reserves in Alberta.
"The responsible development of the enormous resources provided by our oil sands is expected to create hundreds of thousands of jobs spread across the country, generating significant economic benefits," he said.
He said the White House decision underlines the importance of diversifying its economy by expanding into other markets, "including the growing Asian market."
The Canadian government has thrown its support behind plans by pipeline company Enbridge to build the Northern Gateway pipeline to transit an estimated 525,000 barrels of tar sands oil from Alberta to the west coast for deliveries to Asian markets.
Oliver had said environmental advocates were getting in the way of national development by opposing the project.