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Keystone XL pipeline route
Although its formal name is the North American Leaders’ Summit, media are calling it the Three Amigos Summit. But while it may be all friendly public smiles and mutual praise in sunny Toluca, Mexico, Tuesday and Wednesday, President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto are headed into some disputes with each other.

For Nieto and Harper, the argument will be over the visa requirement the Conservative government imposed in 2009 on Mexican travelers as a way to curtail what it calls phony claims of asylum. The Mexican government continues to bristle at the restriction, but a Canadian government official, speaking anonymously, said there are no plans to lift it.

While Harper gets an earful over visas, he'll be delivering his own diplomatically toned complaints about the Keystone XL pipeline that the Canadian government at the behest of the tar sands industry has been pushing for five years:

“We want the president to choose Canada over Venezuela, hard-hats over celebrities, a pipeline with fewer [greenhouse gases] over rail,” [Canada's ambassador to the United States Gary] Doer told Platts Energy Week.

Doer warned that if the Obama administration opted against building the pipeline, it would be seen as a “political” decision by the Canadian government.

“If you play by the rules established by somebody else and you're perceiving this country isn't playing by the same rules they established … it would strain relations,” Doer said.

Obama may, in his head, have already made up his mind about the pipeline. But his reply to Harper's lobbying seems certain to be what it's been to others—including members of his own party, many of whom favor the project: We'll let you know when the process is complete. Under a twice-amended executive order with roots in the 1960s, the State Department is currently reviewing the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the northern leg of the proposed 36-inch pipeline. If approved, it will connect Canada's vast tar sands resources in Alberta to existing pipelines terminating at the Gulf Coast refineries of Texas.

The review includes public comments and a federal interagency assessment, including whatever the Environmental Protection Agency has to say. EPA has twice judged previous versions of the Keystone EIS as inadequate. The deadline for receiving public comments is March 7. You can read the 4,800+ that have been already submitted or add your own here.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 10:37 AM PST.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS and Daily Kos.

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