A lobbyist for a Canadian company that wants to build a pipeline from Alberta to Nebraska - said American politics are standing in the way.
Jim Dunlap, who has spent six years both consulting and lobbying for the project, told attendees of the Southern Legislative Conference that the reason President Obama's administration has not OK'd its permit for the project is a "philosophical opposition" to fossil fuels.
"That's all it is it comes down to," he said. "...They want to eliminate fossil fuel use."
TransCanada has been stalled on the construction of the nearly 1,200-mile oil sands pipeline that would stretch from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Neb.
Because the project would cross the border between Canada and the United States, it requires a permit from the president. So far, President Obama has yet to sign off on the project, Dunlap said. The project has also faced criticism from environmentalists.
The company applied for a presidential permit for its original Keystone pipeline under the Bush administration and received it within 23 months, Dunlap said.
"Today we stand at 46 months on the second permit application and we have no end in sight that we can see," Dunlap said.
According to TransCanada's website, the company expects to receive the permit during the first quarter of 2013 and begin construction shortly after.
Dunlap told one of the conference attendees that he was not sure about that.
"I'm not as convinced as you are that if the current administration stays, there will be a permit," Dunlap said. "I think it's still a 50-50 shot, but if you go by the rule of law - which is what everyone should be doing on this - the permit should have been issued two years ago."
Dunlap said the pipeline is the safest and most efficient form of transportation for oil sands. Because they're underground, they can go unnoticed, he said.
The company announced recently it would begin construction next week on the southern portion of the project - a 485-mile 36-inch crude oil pipeline from Cushing, Okla., to Nederland, Texas, Dunlap said. "TransCanada is prepared to bring this project to fruition and I'm just hopeful that the northern portion is permitted soon," Dunlap said.
Reach Lori Kersey at email@example.com or 304-348-1240.
Copyright 2012 Charleston Newspapers
(Originally published July 30, 2012, in the Charleston Gazette.)