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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.

Sue Ogrocki/AP

The case for

Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama's remarks, saying the company's proposed Keystone XL pipeline will clear environmental hurdles.

TransCanada makes two key points about why it believes Keystone won't significantly add to carbon pollution. First, production from northern Alberta's oil sands would still find its way to market by rail, truck or tanker. Second, the crude would merely displace heavy oil from Venezuela, Mexico and the Middle East.

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"In addition, the pipeline will operate with virtually no emissions and will have a limited impact on all of the resources along the pipeline route," TransCanada chief executive officer Russ Girling said in a statement Tuesday.

The U.S. State Department has already determined that Keystone would meet environmental criteria, added David Collyer, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

The case against

Environmentalists say TransCanada is ignoring how the approval of Keystone – the largest pipeline proposal for carrying production from the oil sands – would place greater importance on high-cost "dirty" bitumen from Alberta.

The Pembina Institute argues that Keystone would spur the need for a 36-per-cent increase in annual output in the oil sands, and therefore raise greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenpeace Canada complains that there is high carbon content in the product shipped from the oil sands, and it is a misguided economic strategy to build the Keystone pipeline from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Environmentalists say that when it comes to oil-sands extraction and upgrading, per-barrel greenhouse gas emissions are nearly 41/2 times higher than output from conventional crude oil.

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About the Author

Brent Jang is a business reporter in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. He joined the Globe in 1995. His former positions include transportation reporter in Toronto, energy correspondent in Calgary and Western columnist for Report on Business. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway student newspaper. Mr. More

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