Aide distances White House from Keystone pipeline decision

She’s referring to a 2004 executive order that puts State in charge of permitting for pipelines that cross international borders.

Zichal steered the focus to State in response to a question about whether approval of the project might be coupled with new Canadian commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and a follow-up inquiry about where the decision on the project will reside.

But while the State Department is formally leading the review, Obama indicated in 2011 that he will ultimately be the decider on Keystone, a project that many business groups and unions want but green groups bitterly oppose.

And many observers believe a decision on Keystone, a pipeline that would bring Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries, will be a White House call despite the formal review occurring at Foggy Bottom.

Zichal said that State would release a supplemental environmental review of the project in the “not too distant future.” But it’s not clear when a final decision will arrive.