UPDATE 2-Obama to rule on Keystone despite builder's plea for delay

Tue Nov 3, 2015 4:54pm EST
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(Adds Senator Hoeven quotes, TransCanada earnings)

By Timothy Gardner and Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON Nov 3 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama wants to rule on the long-pending Keystone XL oil pipeline by the end of his presidency, the White House said on Tuesday, calling a request by the project's Canadian developer to delay a review "unusual."

Obama, who has increasingly focused on environmental issues as his presidency nears its final year, plans to decide on TransCanada Corp's pipeline before he leaves office in 2017, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

The president has increasingly signaled the $8 billion pipeline may not be approved.

Obama is concerned the method used to extract oil in Canada would be "extraordinarily dirty," a description the Canadian government has argued is unfair.

He also said that the pipeline would not be approved if it mostly benefited Canadian companies and would contribute to climate change.

Faced with dimming prospects for approval of the pipeline that would help link Canada's Alberta oil fields to U.S. refineries, the Canadian company on Monday asked the Obama administration to delay its review, signaling that prolonged uncertainty is preferable to rejection of the project.

The request "seems unusual," Earnest said, as the process has already taken more than seven years. Noting that the presidential election is a year away, Earnest said, "I don't think that that's a good excuse for, basically, spending the next year doing nothing."   Continued...