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Canada Won’t Mount Nafta Keystone Challenge: Rickford

The Canadian government is not considering challenging any U.S. decision on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said.

Asked at news conference today in Ottawa if Canada will launch a NAFTA challenge, Rickford said “no.”

The agreement guarantees U.S. access to Canadian energy exports. Derek Burney, Canada’s former ambassador to the U.S., argued in a Toronto speech this month the agreement also gives Canada “unfettered access to ship to the U.S.”

Rickford, who announced he’s heading to a meeting of Group of Seven energy ministers in Rome next week, said he will speak with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz there to push for approval of Keystone.

“It’s an appropriate opportunity at the meeting next week to raise Keystone in the context of energy security,” Rickford said. “I have a bilateral meeting with Secretary Moniz. I’m not going to lose the opportunity to raise it.”

TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL would carry crude from Canada’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

Producers such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total SA are counting on projects including Enbridge Inc.’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to the Pacific Coast and TransCanada’s Keystone to ease a transportation bottleneck that has suppressed the price of Canada’s heavy crude, costing the economy C$50 million ($46 million) a day, according to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

The State Department said April 18 it will extend the period for public comments amid uncertainty over a legal challenge in Nebraska.

“We’re obviously disappointed that this has become politicized,” Rickford said. “We’re hopeful that in the shorter term, rather than the medium or long term, that this decision will be taken by the U.S. to move forward with the XL pipeline.”

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