UPDATE 1-U.S. House leader says State Department stonewalling on Keystone

Thu Feb 5, 2015 12:13pm EST
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(Adds background on State Department process)

WASHINGTON Feb 5 (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Thursday accused the State Department of stonewalling its review of the long-pending Keystone XL pipeline, saying Secretary of State John Kerry must address the issue to make the department's actions more transparent.

"The Democrats are dragging their feet," Boehner, the top House Republican, told reporters, referring to the TransCanada Corp's project to bring 830,000 barrels per day of mostly Canadian oil sands petroleum to refineries and ports on the Gulf Coast.

"Now the State Department is stonewalling and is refusing to answer basic questions about its review. I'm calling on Secretary Kerry to address this issue," Boehner said.

The State Department, which is assessing the project because it crosses the national border, received comments from eight federal agencies this week on whether the pipeline is in the country's interest. The project has been pending for more than six years.

One of the bureaus, the Environmental Protection Agency, separately urged the State Department to consider whether low crude prices mean the pipeline would play a bigger role in developing Canada's oil sands and, as a consequence, raise emissions linked to climate change.

President Barack Obama has said the project should not be approved if it significantly raises the emissions. (Reporting by Richard Cowan, Susan Heavey and Timothy Gardner; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)