US likely to okay Keystone XL Pipeline: Ex-official to Platts Energy Week

Pipeline would open Canada’s tar sands oil to US; Also texas power update

Washington - August 29, 2011

A former senior US State Department official who recently left the agency said Sunday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will likely approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline , which is meant to bring Canadian tar-sands oil to U.S. markets.

David Goldwyn, who left his State Department post as head of international energy affairs earlier this year, said on Platts Energy Week television program that with a positive environmental review and "national interest determination," Clinton would approve the pipeline. Platts Energy Week is the independent, all-energy television news and talk program airing Sundays in the United States and available online.

"I think that balancing jobs, energy security – a country which has increased production potentially the size of Libya – I think the case for a pipeline is overwhelming, and she will approve it," Goldwyn said. Goldwyn made his comments at the conclusion of remarks on how the world energy markets will fair in the wake of unrest in Libya.

The pipeline has been staunchly opposed by environmental groups, who say the US should not import oil derived from oil sands. The process results in much more greenhouse gas emissions than traditional drilling methods. In addition, opponents say a spill from the pipeline could be devastating to the local environment.

In an environmental impact statement (EIS) released Friday, the State Department concluded the proposed pipeline was preferable to more than a dozen other alternatives, including not building the pipeline. However, immediately after the release, State Department Assistant Secretary Kerri-Ann Jones said other factors, such as national security, economics and foreign policy, would have to be considered before a decision was made.

The EIS drew praise from industry, including the pipeline's developer, TransCanada, and the American Petroleum Institute. Opposition came from other corners, however, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, and US Representative Edward Markey from Massachusetts, the senior Democrat on the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee.

Goldwyn now runs a consulting firm, Goldwyn Global Strategies.

In other international news, Goldwyn, former coordinator for international energy affairs at the State Department and former executive director of the U.S.-Libya Business Association, also offered an in-depth update on the ongoing turmoil in Libya and the impact on the oil industry.

In another segment Sunday, program host Bill Loveless spoke with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the topic of ethanol production in the United States. Vilsack said the US is on track to reach a tipping point by 2013 in the expansion of commercial cellulosic-ethanol facilities, thanks to government investment and despite declining federal production targets and difficulty in funding new construction.

In this week’s Market Spotlight, Loveless spoke with Platts Associate Editor Adam Bennett, from Houston, about how gas supplies for power plants are more than keeping up with Texas’ record high temperatures and electricity demand.

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