Prentice makes the case for free trade and Alberta energy in D.C

SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)- Alberta Premier Jim Prentice on Wednesday urged U.S. policymakers not to let a quibble over Keystone XL derail broader North American energy co-operation.

But that didn’t stop the freshman premier from taking subtle shots at President Barack Obama’s recent dismissive comments about the controversial pipeline project.

Addressing the politically influential U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, Prentice laid out his vision for a deeply integrated U.S.-Canada energy market as a driving force for North American competitiveness.

“We must return to the principles of free trade that are enshrined in NAFTA, and address energy-related subjects on a continental basis instead of allowing ill-informed prejudices to detract from the efficiency of that market at the very moment that changes in technology and innovation have brought energy independence within our reach,” he said.

Prentice — who admits Alberta has a poor reputation as an environmental steward — has tried to burnish the province’s image by playing up its regional carbon capture and storage projects and its carbon pricing scheme in meetings with administration officials and lawmakers during his three-day visit to the U.S capital.

In his address, he listed Canada’s contribution to America’s energy market, including the 2.5 million barrels shipped daily south of the border from Alberta, making up 26% of all U.S. energy imports.

“This is almost double what the U.S.’s next biggest supplier, Saudi Arabia, provides,” he said.

“As an added bonus, roughly 90 cents of every dollar spent on Canadian oil returns to the U.S. economy, thanks to integrated markets. Over 1,900 American companies form part of the oilsands supply chain.”

It was an apparent dig at Obama’s recent remarks that cast doubt on the job creation and economic merits of TransCanada’s Alberta-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline project.

Keystone has become a political football in the U.S. The new Republican-controlled Congress recently passed legislation to approve the $8-billion project, but Obama has promised to veto any bill that short-circuits the State Department’s review process, which has been ongoing since 2008.

Green groups and many Democrat lawmakers fiercely oppose the project because of environmental concerns.

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