TransCanada intends to re-apply for a permit to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and may even start working on segments of the pipeline before it gets presidential approval, TransCanada executive Alex Pourbaix told CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report” Thursday. He also said TransCanada has no intention of changing the route.
“The route will not change,” Pourbaix said. “In August of this year, we actually received a final environmental impact statement from the State Department for this route that said the route will have no material environmental impact on the U.S.”
On Wednesday, President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to U.S. refineries in the South. The president said TransCanada’s application for the 1,700-mile pipeline was denied because the State Department didn’t have enough time to complete the review process. A February 21 deadline was set by Congress as part of its deal to extend the payroll-tax cut.
However, TransCanada may start working on parts of the $7 billion pipeline without White House approval, which could potentially connect the Bakken Shale to refiners in the south.
“We have to do a little work on this,” Pourbaix said, “but it appears that if we have shipper support, we would have the opportunity to potentially move forward on segments of the pipeline before we finalize the presidential permit for the cross-border portion of the pipeline.”
But Pourbaix, TransCanada’s President of Energy and Oil Pipelines, stressed that the company’s end goal is to connect the “massive reserves” in Alberta, Canada to the “largest refining center in the world”—the U.S. Gulf Coast.
In the end, he said, he can’t imagine a scenario where the Keystone pipeline won’t be found to be in the national interest of the United States.
“Our opponents would have you think this issue is big oil. This isn’t,” he said. “This is about giving jobs to welders in Montana who’ve been out of work for two years. This is about real people and real jobs.”
But he understands that political forces are at work.
“I would be rather naïve if I didn’t believe to some degree the ultimate approval of this pipeline has been tied up in politics,” he said.
AP and Reuters contributed to this report.
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