House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., infuriated Canadian conservatives this week by alleging that Canadians do not want the Keystone XL pipeline to be constructed -- a statement she reportedly made while raising doubts about the true value of the controversial oil pipeline.
“Canadians don’t want the pipeline in their own country,” Pelosi said on Thursday, according to the Globe and Mail.
Pelosi, speaking at a press briefing on Capitol Hill, said she had just spoken with visiting New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair, who expressed that sentiment. Mulcair and two other NDP members met with the Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Pelosi was skeptical about the professed benefits of the Keystone XL cited by its advocates. The 1,179-mile pipeline would transport heavy crude oil from Canadian oil sands across the United States to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
Supporters of the project claim the pipeline would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and could create thousands of new American jobs. But Pelosi, who has not specifically expressed any opposition to the Keystone XL, questioned those claims on Thursday.
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“It just is amazing to me that [Keystone advocates claim the project would create] ‘tens of thousands of jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,’” she said. “The oil is for export, and the jobs are nowhere near that.”
Environmental advocates, such as Tar Sands Action, report the Keystone XL oil would primarily be exported to Europe and Latin America. Although TransCanada, the company behind the project, told the Department of State in 2008 that pipeline construction could create up to 4,200 jobs, those positions may be temporary and low-paying. TransCanada’s own data shows only 11 percent of construction jobs on the first Keystone pipeline in South Dakota were filled by actual South Dakotans.
Whatever Pelosi’s opinion, the Canadian lawmakers apparently did not want to get involved. A person who was reportedly in the room with Pelosi and Mulcair during the latter’s visit told the Globe and Mail that “those were Nancy Pelosi’s words, not Mr. Mulcair’s.”
Mulcair has repeatedly said he favors the construction of a west-to-east Canadian pipeline but has not taken a position on Keystone.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird purportedly accused Mulcair of “trash-talking” Canada in response to the report.
“To have someone who wants to be prime minister of Canada essentially bad-mouthing Canada in Washington [amounts to] trash-talking Canada and the Canadian economy,” he said, although he added that he wasn’t at the meeting so he couldn’t be sure Mulcair actually said that.
Two surveys conducted in the past six months show that about half of Canadians have a “favorable impression” of the Keystone XL pipeline.