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Canada confident Keystone XL will be approved

Rob Gillies, Associated Press

FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012 file photo, miles of pipe ready to become part of the Keystone Pipeline are stacked in a field near Ripley, Okla. President Barack Obama says that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project from Canada to Texas should only be approved if it doesn't worsen carbon pollution. Obama says allowing the oil pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so is in the nation's interest. He says that means determining that the pipeline does not contribute and "significantly exacerbate" emissions. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

TORONTO (AP) -- Canada's natural resources minister said Tuesday he's confident the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline project from Canada to Texas will be approved because it meets President Barack Obama's requirement that it not lead to a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Joe Oliver responded to Obama's comments earlier Tuesday that the pipeline should be approved only if it does "not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution."

Oliver pointed to "Obama's very own State Department" which he said concluded in a report this year "that there would be no increase in greenhouse gas emissions."

The long-delayed project carrying oil from Alberta's oil sands requires approval from the State Department because the project crosses the border. Republicans, and business and labor groups, have urged the Obama administration to approve the pipeline as a source of jobs and a step toward North American energy independence.

But environmental groups have been pressuring Obama to reject the pipeline, saying it would carry "dirty oil" that contributes to global warming. They also worry about a spill.

Canada has said the project would be a welcome economic boost, and Alberta's premier has warned that its rejection would mar relations with the U.S. The northern Alberta region has the world's third largest oil reserves, with 170 billion barrels of proven reserves.

Canada needs infrastructure in place to export its growing production. The country relies on the U.S. for 97 percent of its energy exports.

A State Department report on the pipeline this year acknowledged that development of the oil sands in Alberta would create greenhouse gases, but it also made clear that other methods to transport the oil — including rail, trucks and barges — also pose a risk to the environment. For instance, a scenario that would move the oil on trains to mostly existing pipelines would release 8 percent more greenhouse gases than Keystone XL, the report said.

"This pipeline has been the most studied pipeline in the history of the world," Oliver said.

A lack of pipelines and a bottleneck of oil in the U.S. Midwest have reduced the price of Canadian crude, costing oil producers and the federal and Alberta governments billions in revenue. Obama's initial rejection of the pipeline last year went over badly in Canada.

Oliver said "we're comfortable the project will be approved" if the facts and science are taken into account.

TransCanada, the Calgary-based company that has proposed the pipeline, said in a statement it was pleased with Obama's comments setting out criteria for pipeline approval.

"The almost five-year review of the project has already repeatedly found that these criteria are satisfied," said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive.

The pipeline would carry 800,000 barrels of oil a day across six U.S. states to refineries along the Gulf Coast. A southern leg from Oklahoma to ports near Houston already has been approved, and construction is proceeding.

Greenpeace Canada spokesman Mike Hudema said industry and the Canadian government have said "that the Keystone pipeline is key to accelerate tar sands expansion plans, which would lead to more carbon pollution."