Three high-ranking U.S. senators are on their way to Western Canada to inspect the oil sands and get briefed on other environmental issues.
It's the second high-profile American trip in as many weeks. Last week, the powerful Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, was in Ottawa for a series of meetings on energy and the environment.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican, and Democratic Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina arrive in Alberta Thursday night. They will tour the oil sands and then fly to Saskatoon on Friday to be briefed on carbon capture and sequestration technology, as well as issues around uranium research.
The three senators will meet with Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who was in Ottawa last week for Ms. Pelosi's visit. They are also expected to meet with Alberta's Ed Stelmach, who also on hand for the U.S. Speaker's tour.
In addition to energy interests, Mr. Chambliss is the senior Republican on the Senate agriculture committee, which will give Mr. Wall an opportunity to talk about shared issues on that front.
The interest in energy resources and production by senior American politicians comes at a key moment in relations between the United Staes and Canada, which is its top energy supplier. Washington is also considering approval of a controversial cross-border pipeline project.
These visits come, too, as the crucial mid-term elections approach in the United States, which could see the Democrats lose control of the House and Ms. Pelosi lose her Speaker status. The Republicans are positioning themselves for a potential leadership role, so being up to date on the environmental front and with America's biggest energy supplier is vital as the November polls approach.