Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper contradicted on Friday U.S. President Barack Obama's dismissal of the job-creation potential of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, saying the project is important both for jobs and for energy security.
Asked about remarks made by Obama in an interview with the New York Times last Saturday and then repeated this week in a speech, Harper told reporters in Quebec City that Canada's perspective was well-known by everyone in Washington.
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"That is that first of all our No. 1 priority in Canada is the creation of jobs, and clearly this is a project that will create jobs on both sides of the border," Harper said. "And it is in our judgment an important project, not just for our economy and for job creation but for the long-term energy security of North America."
Obama said in the interview that the evidence was that TransCanada Corp's Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels per day of crude from Canada's oil sands and the Bakken shale in North Dakota and Montana to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, would not be a big jobs generator.
He said it might create 2,000 jobs during the construction for a year or two and then 50 or 100 jobs thereafter. The U.S. State Department's analysis in March was that Keystone would support 42,100 direct and indirect jobs.
Harper's Conservative government has been a big booster of Keystone XL and other pipelines to tidewater because it wants export markets for increasing crude oil production in the land-locked oil sands of northern Alberta.
Green groups have put heavy pressure on Obama to reject Keystone XL, warning of spills and higher emissions from the carbon-intensive oil sands.
The U.S. administration's final decision on whether to approve Keystone XL is expected later this year or early in 2014.
(Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Peter Galloway)