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BNN's editorial board has named TransCanada CEO Russ Girling as Canada's top business newsmaker of 2011.
Girling received a harsh lesson in U.S. politics during 2011. He spent the year pushing for approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would ship crude oil from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast in Texas.
Everything was looking good after the State Department released its final environmental impact statement at the end of the summer, which many commentators viewed as favourable of the pipeline. But that soon changed.
Environmental groups were the most vocal in their calls to halt the project. More surprising was the stiff resistance from Nebraska, where Governor Dave Heineman urged U.S. President Barack Obama to halt the project. Heineman expressed concern that a potential leak in the pipeline would damage the Ogallala Aquifer, a vital source of water for a state dependent on agriculture. As summer turned to fall and the opposition grew louder, Girling and company maintained the pipeline was safe and assured investors they were confident it would be approved. Unions were on board, as they were eager for the estimated 20,000 jobs the pipeline would bring.