Suddenly the Keystone XL pipeline is all the talk of American politics — again.
A day after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Americans “deserve” the Canadian oil that Keystone would deliver, former U.S. president Bill Clinton said it was time for the U.S. to “embrace” the long-delayed project.
Clinton, speaking at an energy conference in Maryland, said he believes the pipeline should be approved on a new route that avoids the ecologically fragile Sand Hills region of Nebraska. He suggested Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. botched its initial application by proposing an original route that cut directly through the Sand Hills and the vast Ogallala Aquifer.
“One of the most amazing things to me about this Keystone pipeline deal is that they ever filed that route in the first place since they could’ve gone around the Nebraska Sand Hills and avoided most of the dangers, no matter how imagined, to the Ogallala with a different route,” Clinton said in remarks reported by Politico and Bloomberg News.
“The extra cost of running (the pipeline around the Sand Hills) is infinitesimal compared to the revenue that will be generated over a long period of time,” Clinton added.
“So, I think we should embrace it and develop a stakeholder-driven system of high standards for doing the work.”
Clinton’s remarks are certain to cause a stir among U.S. environmentalists who remain steadfastly opposed to the pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Hardisty, Alta., to the U.S. Gulf Coast.