Former U.S. ambassador ’embarrassed’ by handling of Keystone XL review

CALGARY – A former American ambassador to Canada says he is embarrassed by how the U.S. government handled the Keystone XL pipeline review.

David Wilkins, who was ambassador during the presidency of George W. Bush, says there was no need to take seven years to announce a decision.

U.S. President Barack Obama rejected the US$8-billion cross-border pipeline a week ago on the grounds it would neither help the U.S. economy nor its efforts to combat carbon emissions.

Wilkins, speaking at an energy summit hosted by the Economic Club of Canada in Calgary, says the best shot Keystone XL has at being resurrected is if there’s a Republican in the White House in 2017.

The plain-spoken South Carolina native is now a partner at Nelson Mullins, Riley & Scarborough LLP, where he works on Canada-U.S. matters in the firm’s public policy and international law practice.

U.S. lobbying database records show the firm had the Alberta government as a client at a time when the province was pushing hard to get Keystone XL approved.

“Frankly, I was embarrassed by the way my government handled the whole thing. A seven-year delay. Absolutely unnecessary. That simply is not how you treat a friend, period,” said Wilkins.

“This is a classic example of politics trumping good policy. President Obama chose politics, in my opinion.”

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