U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will visit Ottawa later this month, as the two governments look to move beyond the dispute over the Keystone XL pipeline and work together confronting the crisis in the Ukraine and other challenges in the continental energy market.
Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford will meet with Mr. Moniz on Sept. 18 in what is being billed as the first visit by an American energy secretary to Canada since Barack Obama became president in 2009 – a stunning lapse given the huge two-way trade in oil, natural gas and electricity, and the ongoing political irritants.
In an interview, Mr. Rickford said that, while the stalled Keystone project will certainly be raised, he is looking to make progress in other areas of the energy relationship to ensure the cross-border infrastructure works as seamlessly as possible. Mr. Moniz is in the midst of a major review of U.S. energy policy and infrastructure needs. As the United States's largest foreign source of energy, Canada needs to have its voice heard in that effort, the Natural Resources minister said.
The energy secretary does not have formal responsibility for reviewing cross-border pipeline projects such as TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL; that falls to the State Department and its Secretary John Kerry. The Harper government has been highly critical of President Barack Obama for delaying the decision on whether to approve the pipeline project, which would carry 830,000 barrels per day of oil sands crude to the massive refining hub on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Mr. Moniz certainly represents an influential voice within the administration as President Barack Obama seeks to mesh his goal of progress on climate change with U.S. energy security and economic considerations. A nuclear physicist by training, the secretary was recruited last year from an energy policy institute at the Massachusetts Institute of technology and was a top official at the energy department under former president Bill Clinton.
"There already are a lot of things going on besides Keystone," Mr. Rickford said. "And I have a strong desire to work with Secretary Moniz on a number of other key fronts."
Editor's note: U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will visit Ottawa and meet with Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford on Sept. 18. An earlier online version of this story said the visit will be on Sept. 22.