Administration rejects TransCanada's plea to pause Keystone review

Administration rejects TransCanada's plea to pause Keystone review
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The Obama administration is turning down a plea from the company behind the Keystone XL oil pipeline to pause its review of the project.

The refusal means that President Obama will make a decision on the pipeline before leaving office in January 2017, and he will not leave it up to his successor.

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“We’ve told TransCanada that the review process will continue,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters Wednesday, the day that the agency formally wrote to TransCanada Corp. about the rejection.

“There’s no legal requirement to do that and a lot of interagency work has gone into this to date, to include interagency review and coordination, as well as significant review and coordination here,” Kirby said. “The secretary believes that it’s most appropriate to keep that process in place.”

TransCanada spokesman Mark Cooper said the company respects State’s decision, and it will continue to advocate for Keystone to administration officials.

TransCanada petitioned Monday for State to hold off on its review process, which has taken seven years so far, angering the company and its supporters, including congressional Republicans.

The developer said it wanted to wait until Nebraska regulators finished considering the pipeline’s route, a process that would have almost certainly pushed the federal decision into the next president’s term — a potential win for TransCanada if a Republican is elected.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest called the request “unusual” Tuesday and said that Obama would make a decision by the end of his term.

TransCanada head Russ Girling said the request had nothing to do with politics.

“We’ve tried to stay out of the politics of this situation and focus on the things that we’re capable of doing and can control and that’s the regulatory process,” he said in a Tuesday call with investors.

All Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential election have pledged to approve the Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, and all Democrats oppose it.

Keystone requires a presidential permit because it would cross an international border.