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TransCanada rebuffs call for clean energy to power Keystone

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says TransCanada Corp. should be required to buy renewable power to run pumps along the route of its proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a measure the company said is unworkable and unnecessary.

In a July 17 letter to the U.S. State Department, the Calgary-based company said the EPA suggested it buy renewable energy to run pumping stations from Alberta to Steele

City, Neb. The EPA, in an April filing with the State Department, also said the U.S. should work with Canada to promote technology to capture and store underground the carbon-dioxide emissions generated in the production of Canadian oil.

The State Department is reviewing the $5.3 billion project because it crosses an international border. TransCanada first applied for a permit for the project in 2008.

“Keystone does not control the source of the power it purchases,” according to the letter, released by the company.

“TransCanada has invested over $5 billion in emissionless energy sources including the largest wind farm in Maine and 13 hydro power stations in the U.S. Northeast.”

The EPA said the pipeline will increase global warming emissions because developing crude from Western Canada’s oilsands produces more carbon dioxide than the typical oil used in the U.S. In addition to the impact on climate change, environmental groups oppose the project because of the potential for oil spills along its more than 1,408-kilometre route. A draft environmental analysis prepared this spring

for the U.S. State Department said Keystone wouldn’t raise the risks of climate change because Alberta’s oil would probably be developed with or without the pipeline. If both Keystone and the other proposed pipelines from the oilsands aren’t built, the reduction in annual emissions would be at most 5.3 million metric tons a year of carbon dioxide, less than 0.1 per cent of total U.S. emissions, the department’s analysis found. In a speech in Washington last month on the risks of climate change, Obama said his administration would reject

Keystone if it finds that the project would “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”

TransCanada chief executive Russ Girling said the project would not increase greenhouse gas emissions.

“I think it’s clear that the Keystone pipeline has no impact on GHG emissions,” Girling said Thursday.

“What we’re really talking about is Canadian oil versus Venezuelan oil and what is the net difference between the two, and it’s zero.”

The carbon-dioxide emissions tied to the pipeline would have “an unmeasurable impact on climate,” according to TransCanada’s letter.

The EPA is one of eight government agencies reviewing the project under the direction of the State Department. Girling said he hopes for a final decision later this year. The EPA asked the State Department to conduct a fuller market analysis in its final report, which may be released as early as September.

Once the environmental assessment is completed, the department will have 90 days to review whether Keystone is in the U.S. national interest.