U.S. won't be pushed into fast Keystone decision
Published Friday, January 17, 2014 11:01AM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 17, 2014 3:51PM EST
The United States government will not put a timeline on when it will hand down a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, despite a push by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird during his three-day visit to Washington.
Kerry made the comments during a joint press conference with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Mexican Foreign Secretary Jose Antonio Meade after a trilateral meeting in Washington.
While taking questions from reporters, Kerry said he is still awaiting another environmental review of the proposed project, and a decision cannot be expected until that process is complete and he has had time to review the report.
"I think he understands that," Kerry said, in reference to Baird, who stood next to him at the press conference.
"We are currently engaged in the environmental impact statement analysis. An analysis will be made with respect to the national interest ultimately and we're just not at that point yet…they haven’t finished it.”
Kerry added: "I can promise our friends in Canada that all the appropriate effort is being put into trying to get this done effectively and rapidly. My hope is before long that analysis will be available and then my work can begin."
While the three men discussed a range of issues from trade and job creation to border security and regulatory co-operation, the Keystone project has been at the forefront of Baird’s three-day Washington visit.
In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Baird pressed for a quick decision on Keystone.
"If there's one message I'm going to be promoting on this trip, it's this: the time for Keystone is now. I'll go further -- the time for a decision on Keystone is now, even if it's not the right one,” Baird said.
"We can't continue in this state of limbo."
The proposed pipeline would carry Alberta oil to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. While lawmakers on both sides of the border have hailed the project as a job creator, environmental groups have launched vocal campaigns to pressure Obama to say no to the pipeline.
During a talk in New York last fall, Prime Minister Stephen Harper had said he would not take “no for an answer” on the project.
In a statement issued Friday, Baird said he strongly believed that by working together, "we can improve North American productivity and make our economies more innovative and internationally competitive."
He added, “Trilateral cooperation complements our respective national and bilateral efforts to achieve these objectives. By working together on foreign policy issues, we can have a greater impact and better advance the values and interests that we share.”