UPDATE 4-Keystone XL oil pipeline in doubt as U.S. asked to pause review

Mon Nov 2, 2015 10:45pm EST
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(Adds position of presidential candidates)

By Valerie Volcovici and Nia Williams

WASHINGTON/CALGARY Nov 2 (Reuters) - The Canadian company behind the proposed Keystone XL pipeline on Monday asked the U.S. government to suspend review of the $8 billion project that sparked a political war between environmentalists and the oil industry, a move that could put its fate in the hands of the next U.S. president.

TransCanada Corp's move was seen by many as an attempt to avert a rejection from an increasingly environmentally focused President Barack Obama and postpone the decision until after the November 2016 presidential election.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has said she opposes the pipeline while many Republican candidates support the project for making America less reliant on the Middle East.

Calgary-based TransCanada said it had sent a letter to the U.S. State Department to suspend its application while the company goes through a state review process in Nebraska.

The State Department was reviewing TransCanada's request but still assessing the project, a representative said.

The nearly 1,200-mile (2,000-km) pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels a day of mostly Canadian oil sands crude to Nebraska en route to refineries and ports along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Green groups issued a blizzard of statements describing TransCanada's move as a desperate attempt to avoid a "no" decision, and urging the president to kill the project anyway. Democrats hours after the move sent an email urging supporters to sign an online petition to fight climate change.   Continued...