Obama and Canadian PM Expected to Discuss Pipeline

| Fri Feb. 4, 2011 2:01 PM EST

President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper are meeting in Washington, and on the slate of topics for discussion is energy policy—which is likely to include the massive pipeline that a Canadian company wants to build to transport oil from Alberta's tar sands to refineries in Texas.

Environmental groups are using the visit to urge the administration to reject the proposed 1,661-mile Keystone XL pipeline project. In a letter sent to Obama on Friday, 86 national and regional environmental groups described imports from the tar sands as the "world's dirtiest form of oil," and urged his administration to deny TransCanada's request to build the pipeline across the plains:

The pipeline would drive further destruction of Canada’s boreal forest, bring the threat of dangerous oil spills through America’s heartland, exacerbate air quality problems in communities surrounding the refineries that the pipeline would service, and significantly increase the carbon intensity of U.S. transportation fuel, which would undercut the emissions reductions achieved by increasing U.S. automobile efficiency.

"America does not need this dangerous and expensive pipeline," the groups, which include the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation, and Friends of the Earth, conclude.

Ahead of the visit, the oil industry also sent a letter to Obama urging the administration to approve the project. Obama and Harper are holding a joint press conference at 3 p.m. It will be interesting to see if the pipeline comes up.

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