White House denies that Keystone decision is near

The State Department is still reviewing the application to build the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline and has not sent it to the White House for review, President Obama’s top spokesman said on Thursday.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest gave the update in response to a report in Canada’s Financial Post saying that Obama is likely to reject the pipeline before Labor Day weekend, citing “a well-connected source.”

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On an Air Force One flight to New Orleans for the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Earnest said he had not read the Financial Post report, but added he has no reason to believe it.

“This project continues to be under review by the State Department. I’m not aware of any decisions the State Department has forwarded onto the White House,” Earnest said.

“It’s my understanding this review process is still ongoing and I don’t have an update on timing at this point.”

Earnest added that he also had no update on when the Obama administration planned to complete its review of the Canada-to-Texas pipeline.

It’s been nearly seven years since TransCanada Corp. applied for its permit to build the pipeline across the United States’ northern border, frustrating oil interests, Republicans and most Canadian leaders.

The Post report said a decision on the permit would likely come next week, while Congress was still away on recess.

“The latest in the United States capital is that an announcement will be made next Thursday or Friday, when many are out of town, reducing potential for blowback, said a well-connected source,” the Post’s report said.

Obama said in 2013 that he would only approve Keystone if it did not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions. The State Department declared last year that the project would fit that standard, a decision that environmentalists and even the Environmental Protection Agency later questioned.

— Jordan Fabian contributed to this story.