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The voices of supporters and foes of the Keystone pipeline are getting louder. Last week, protesters gathered in San Francisco to make their views known in advance of the president’s trip to the Bay Area.

Nhat V. Meyer • San Jose Mercury News ,

Alberta premier returns to D.C. to lobby for Keystone pipeline

  • Article by: JOHN M. BRODER
  • New York Times
  • April 9, 2013 - 9:48 PM

– Alison Redford, the premier of the Canadian province that is home to the oil sands formations that would supply the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to the United States, said Tuesday that critics of the project had distorted its environmental effects and exaggerated the impact of developing the oil.

Alberta Premier Redford was on her fourth trip to Washington in 18 months to lobby for the intensely contested ­project. In a speech at the Brookings Institution, she said opponents of the 1,700-mile pipeline were “far from reality.”

“They proclaim that either you stand against the oil sands, or you write off the environment, along with any hope for a sustainable existence,” said Redford, a lawyer and human rights adviser before being elected in October 2011. “That is ­completely wrong.”

She said the critics’ central argument — that without the pipeline Alberta’s oil would remain in the ground — is unrealistic. “We’re an exporting ­economy,” she said, insisting that the billions of barrels of heavy crude known as bitumen embedded in tarlike formations will be exploited with or without the pipeline. “Alberta does have other options,” she said, including pipeline or overland transport to the coasts or even to the Arctic Ocean.

Opponents and backers of the pipeline are stepping up organizing and advertising campaigns. They have recruited former aides to Secretary of State John Kerry and the president in dueling efforts to influence the White House.

Alberta has hired Boston-based public relations firm Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications, according to disclosure reports. Rasky Baerlein’s chairman, Larry Rasky, worked for Kerry’s first campaign for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts in 1984. Rasky also served as communications director for Vice President Joe Biden’s unsuccessful campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Meanwhile, former White House aide Bill Burton is part of a new coalition of environmental groups opposing the pipeline. Burton, whose outside group raised $65 million in support of Obama’s re-election last year, said the “All Risk, No Reward Coalition” group is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to prod supporters of the president to push him to reject the pipeline.

The State Department is conducting a review to determine whether the much-delayed $7 billion project is in the national interest. Obama, who will make the ultimate decision and appears to be leaning toward approving the pipeline, has given no timeline, although most expect an answer by midsummer.

Burton’s group began a TV advertising campaign this week highlighting the environmental dangers. The group’s 30-second commercial calls attention to the recent spill of oil sands crude from a decades-old pipeline in Arkansas.

“It’s happened before, and now again,” the script says. The advertisement also notes that much of the pipeline oil would be refined at Gulf Coast facilities and then exported. “Keystone XL doesn’t go to the U.S.; it goes through the U.S.,” the spot says.

On the other side, the American Petroleum Institute and construction unions, who would benefit from the roughly 4,000 temporary jobs if the pipeline was approved, announced a print and online advertising campaign promoting the project’s economic and employment benefits. “Keystone XL is more than a pipeline,” the ads proclaim. “It’s a lifeline.” The groups are also sponsoring rallies.

Bloomberg contributed to this report.

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