Monday, May 4, 2009

Embattled in Illinois, Enbridge gets diplomats to lobby for it

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Facing strong opposition from environmental groups for its ambitious pipeline project to transport oil-sands crude to U.S. refineries, Enbridge turned to Canadian diplomats to lobby for it in the state capital.
Despite the opposition, construction of the opposed pipeline may start as early as this summer.
The Canadian consul general from Chicago visited Springfield recently along with officials from Enbridge to seek support for the pipeline. The group met with Gov. Pat Quinn and other officials on April 29 to argue that the project will bring revenue and jobs to Illinois.
The first section of the nearly three-year-old, $350 million construction project has been completed to an area about 50 miles northeast of Peoria, Ill. But the final phase has run into opposition from environmental groups and some landowners, who say the pipeline would only encourage continued reliance on polluting petroleum products and would violate property rights.
“Canada has the second-largest reserves in the world. There's 170 billion barrels of reserves, and 97 percent are in the oil sands," said Don Thompson, president of The Oil Sands Developers Group.
Thompson was referring to oil fields in Alberta, Canada, which already supply much of the oil refined in Illinois.
Canadian consul general Georges Rioux estimated $15 billion worth of refinery upgrades and pipeline construction have been completed or begun in order to improve the energy infrastructure connecting Canada and the United States.

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