UPDATE 1-Obama says Kerry to 'give me a recommendation' on Keystone project

Mon Feb 3, 2014 5:21pm EST
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By Roberta Rampton and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON Feb 3 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama made clear he would make the ultimate call on whether to approve the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline from Canada, and played down the number of jobs the project could create in a Fox News interview to air on Monday.

In recent days, officials from the White House and State Department have emphasized Secretary of State John Kerry's role in determining whether the $5.4 billion project should go ahead, and have shied away from describing Obama's role.

Kerry is reviewing an 11-volume environmental impact study, and will seek comment in the next three months from other federal agencies and the public on whether the pipeline is in the national interest.

"The process now goes: agencies comment on what the State Department did, public's allowed to comment, Kerry's going to give me a recommendation," Obama told Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor."

The interview was taped on Sunday, but the Keystone segment is set to air on Monday night.

Obama has said in the past that he believed the pipeline should go ahead "only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution."

The huge State Department study released on Friday showed that blocking the pipeline would do little to slow the expansion of Canada's oil sands, although it noted that the crude from the project was more polluting than the oil it would replace in the United States.   Continued...