The CEO of TransCanada, the corporation behind the tar sands-carrying Keystone XL, recognized the power of activists in fighting the project but said that even a rejection from the White House won't deter the pipeline from being completed.
Russ Girling, head of the Calgary-based energy giant, was in Washington on Tuesday to meet with the State Department about the pending approval of the pipeline, and offered his thoughts about Keystone opponents and the future of the pipeline in a handful of interviews on Wednesday.
Girling acknowledged the power activists, who have given "good sound bites" that have caused the average person to be fearful of the project, have had in fighting the pipeline, in an interview with Politico. Speaking to Bloomberg, he said that Keystone foes have been able to slow down the approval process and have been “very successful in creating the impression that the pipeline equals emissions."
“There’s no question that the noise outside is having an influence on the process,” Girling told Bloomberg. “The project has been hijacked by activists that are opposed to the development of all fossil fuels.”
The reach of the message of Keystone XL opponents forced the company to launch extensive PR campaigns to fight back, Girling conceded.
While now in a fifth year of waiting for White House OK for the Keystone XL, which he expects in early 2014, Girling is optimistic, but said that even a "no" from the president won't deter the project from moving forward.
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In June President Obama declared :
Our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.
A widely criticized draft environmental statement on the pipeline from State Department issued in March indicated it would have minimal impact.
Girling told The Hill he sees no reason for the White House to reject the pipeline in its final assessment, and, contradicting reports from environmental groups, said, "It is impossible to get to a conclusion that the pipeline causes any significant increase in [greenhouse gas] emissions.
He said supporters of the project that TransCanada has already sunk $2 billion into have shown no signs of leaving, despite years of waiting.
“Nobody is going to pack up their tent and leave,” Girling told Bloomberg. “We will get through these hurdles. The marketplace will determine whether these projects get done.”