Canada loses patience on Keystone XL, tells U.S. to decide

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada bluntly told the United States on Thursday to settle the fate of TransCanada Corp's proposed Keystone XL pipeline, saying the drawn-out process on whether to approve the northern leg of the project was taking too long.

The hard line comments by Foreign Minister John Baird in Washington were the clearest sign yet that Canada's Conservative government has lost patience over what it sees as U.S. foot-dragging. Ottawa strongly backs the project.

"The time for Keystone is now. I'll go further - the time for a decision on Keystone is now, even if it's not the right one. We can't continue in this state of limbo," Baird said in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

U.S. President Barack Obama must rule on the northern leg of Keystone XL, which would carry crude from the Alberta oil sands in Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Obama is under heavy pressure from environmental activists to veto it and the deadline for a decision has repeatedly slipped. Political observers expect he will act later this year.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said earlier this month that Obama had "punted" the decision, but expressed confidence that the United States would eventually approve the 1,200-mile (1,900-km) pipeline, designed to carry 830,000 barrels a day.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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