- POSTED: 18 Jan 2014 03:18
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US Secretary of State John Kerry Friday refused to answer Canadian calls on whether or not Washington will approve the construction of a controversial oil pipeline, saying it was still under review.
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State John Kerry Friday refused to answer Canadian calls on whether or not Washington will approve the construction of a controversial oil pipeline, saying it was still under review.
"I can promise our friends in Canada that ... all the appropriate effort has been put into trying to get this done effectively and rapidly," Kerry said, ahead of talks with his Canadian counterpart John Baird.
But he said the State Department was still reviewing the environmental impact of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline which is intended to carry heavy crude from Alberta's oil sands to Texas refineries.
"An analysis will be made with respect to the national interest ultimately. And we're just not at that point yet, haven't received it, they haven't finished it," Kerry told reporters, ahead of his bilateral talks with Baird.
A months-long review process solicited over a million responses, and Kerry said the queries had to be given "appropriate answers."
"The public has a role in this. We're all accountable to our publics. The democratic process demands that we do that," the top US diplomat said.
Baird said he hoped Washington would release its report "in short order and that the administration will be in a position to make a positive decision."
"Obviously, this is a tremendously important project for the future prosperity of the Canadian economy," Baird said.
"It's a great project. It'll create a lot of jobs here in the United States. It's a great project which will increase the energy security of our closest friend and ally."
At a speech on Thursday at the US Chamber of Commerce, Baird had called on the United States to end its foot-dragging over the issue.
"The time for Keystone is now," he said.
"I'll go further -- the time for a decision on Keystone is now, even if it's not the right one. We can't continue in this state of limbo."
US President Barack Obama is expected to decide this year whether to greenlight the $5.3 billion, 1,179-mile (1,897-kilometre) pipeline, first proposed back in 2008.
The project was put forth by TransCanada, which operates oil and gas pipelines in North America.
Environmentalists have opposed the pipeline because the oil it will carry requires huge amounts of energy and water to extract, and producing and refining it generates a large amount of damaging emissions in the process.
They also warn the pipeline will carry risks of environmentally damaging spills.