Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and 10 U.S. governors have sent a joint letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, urging him to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline project.
In the letter, sent to Obama on the eve of his inauguration, the premier and the governors note the pipeline is "fundamentally important to the future economic prosperity of both the United States and Canada."
"As legislators and decision-makers, we felt it imperative to speak up for a project that will contribute greatly to a safe, secure and long-term energy supply for North America," Wall said. "We need greater pipeline capacity to move the oil - Canadian and American – that is vital to our shared goal of North American energy security."
TransCanada Corporation is the proponent of the pipeline, which would transport oil from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska and then on to the Gulf Coast. The president is expected to rule on a revised application by TransCanada in the first quarter of 2013.
In the letter to Obama, Wall and the governors say the pipeline is crucial to U.S. energy security, with U.S. oil imports from Canada potentially reaching 4 million barrels a day by 2020, twice what is currently imported from the Persian Gulf.
They also cite the pipeline as critical infrastructure that would move growing American conventional oil production from the Bakken Formation to market, thus easing pipeline capacity for all jurisdictions that share this dynamic oil play, which encompasses Saskatchewan, Manitoba, North Dakota and Montana.
The premier and the governors say the project will create thousands of manufacturing and construction jobs on both sides of the border, as well as considerable spin-off economic benefits in communities along the pipeline route.
They also note that pipelines are the most efficient method of transporting large volumes of crude oil, and that the leaders are committed to all necessary measures to protect the environment and public health and safety.
"We have a great track record on pipeline safety in North America, thanks to the stringent regulatory processes and requirements in place in both countries," Wall said. "This project has received considerable study, and we believe the changes TransCanada has made to its route address the outstanding economic and environmental questions of the U.S. State Department."
Canada is the largest oil supplier to the United States, accounting for approximately one-quarter of all U.S. oil imports. Saskatchewan is Canada's second largest oil producer, with roughly 65 to 70 per cent of our oil shipped to the American market.