In Wake of Keystone Decision, Prime Minister Harper Tells President Obama that Canada Will Work on Sending Oil to Asia

Jan 18, 2012 5:55pm

President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline application, as recommended by the U.S. State Department, was met with disappointment by our friends north of the border.

In a statement, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office said that President Obama called him this morning. “The president explained that the decision was not a decision on the merits of the project and that it was without prejudice, meaning that TransCanada is free to reapply,” said the statement. “Prime Minister Harper expressed his profound disappointment with the news. He indicated to President Obama that he hoped that this project would continue given the significant contribution it would make to jobs and economic growth both in Canada and the United States of America.” Pointedly, the statement also says that Harper “reiterated to the president that Canada will continue to work to diversify its energy exports.”

“Diversify”? What does that mean?

It means Canada will explore selling more of its oil to Asia. As Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told the CBC: “Our focus is, as you know, on diversifying our markets. We currently have one customer for our energy exports. That customer has said that it doesn’t want to expand at the moment. So it certainly intensifies the broad strategic objective of the government to diversify to Asia.”

Curiously, President Obama’s readout is somewhat less informative:

“President Obama called Prime Minister Harper to personally convey his Administration’s decision on the Keystone pipeline,” the White House statement reads. “The President also reaffirmed the close alliance and friendship between the United States and Canada.”

As we covered earlier today,  the project would directly create an estimated 13,000 jobs with the Teamsters Union assessing more than 100,000 others support jobs would be created along the pipeline’s path. Environmentalists and the Republican governor of Nebraska expressed serious misgivings about the impact on sensitive lands in Nebraska.

-Jake Tapper

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