OTTAWA, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. environmentalists are free to challenge a Canadian oil pipeline, but Canada will set its own policy regardless, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.
In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Monday night, the Conservative leader was asked about the Northern Gateway project that would transport oil from Alberta's oils sands to the United States and westward for export to Asia.
Harper said the $5.5-billion project was under review by the National Energy Board, which was facing "extraordinary delay" hearing opposition from U.S. environmentalists.
"Just because certain people in the United States would like to see Canada be one giant national park for the northern half of North America, I don't think that's part of what our review process is all about," Harper said. "Our process is there to determine what the needs and desires of Canadians are.
"Ultimately, because it's Canadian jobs that are at stake, that Canadians have to be the ones who make the decisions."
As for domestic opponents, the leader said Canadians were welcome to argue environmental concerns versus employment and national export revenue.
U.S. President Barack Obama delayed a decision until next year about the pipeline, which would transport crude oil to southern refineries.
Canada has warned if the United States doesn't want the oil, Asian markets would welcome it.