AntiKeystone XL billionaire challenges TransCanada boss to live debate

CALGARY — A San Francisco billionaire has challenged TransCanada boss Russ Girling to a live debate on the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.Tom Steyer, an ardent critic of the project and a major Democratic financier, says in an open letter to Girling that he wants to have a “real, substantial conversation” on the more than US$5.3-billion project.A TransCanada spokesman didn’t say if Girling would accept the challenge, but noted the project is nearly five years into a State Department environmental review process that the company hopes will be complete in the coming months.Shawn Howard added the project is expected to create thousands of jobs and displace U.S. imports of crude from unfriendly countries — assertions Steyer disputes in his letter.A draft State Department report earlier this year raised no major environmental red flags with the proposal, which had been rerouted to reduce some of the ecological impact in Nebraska.U.S. President Barack Obama — who has final say over the pipeline — has expressed skepticism that the pipeline will be a significant job creator.

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