Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver says if the U.S. bases its Keystone XL pipeline decision on “facts and science,” he’s confident it will be approved.

His comments come after U.S. President Barack Obama said the pipeline must not “significantly exacerbate” greenhouse gas emissions if it’s to win his approval.

Obama addressed the TransCanada project as he unveiled a national plan to combat climate change at D.C.’s Georgetown University on Tuesday.

Obama said assurance that building the northern portion of Keystone XL will not result in greater greenhouse gas emissions "is absolutely critical in determining whether this project will be allowed to go forward."

Oliver responded to Obama’s comments later Tuesday, saying: “On a net basis, I don’t see any increase on emissions.”

The minister said 20 per cent of the crude transported by Keystone would come from North Dakota, Montana and Saskatchewan.

“That’s lighter crude, which has significantly lower emissions,” Oliver said.

He added that the remaining crude coming from the Alberta oilsands has the same or lower emissions than the heavy crude that the U.S. imports from Venezuela.

“I just think if you look at the facts and the science we’re comfortable the project will be approved,” he said during a news conference in Toronto.

Oliver said $7.6-billion pipeline, which would transport millions of barrels of oilsands bitumen a week from Alberta to Texas refineries, would be in the national interest of both the U.S. and Canada.

“The economic advantages are obvious and overwhelming,” Oliver said, pointing to economic growth and increased government revenue.

He added that the pipeline’s approval would be beneficial for national security “because the oil from Canada would be displacing oil from a less reliable source.”

Keystone XL has become a crucial point for U.S. environmentalists, who have branded it a symbol of dirty oil and have spent the past two years mounting a fierce public relations battle against the project.

Obama rejected the pipeline in early 2012, but invited TransCanada to file a new application with an altered route that would skirt Nebraska's ecologically sensitive Sand Hills region.

TransCanada did so, earning approval from the state of Nebraska.

Referencing a U.S. State Department report on the proposed pipeline released earlier this year, Oliver said the Keystone project is safer than “typically constructed U.S. pipelines.”

TransCanada said it was “pleased” with Obama’s comments on the pipeline and its impact on climate change.

“The almost five-year review of the project has already repeatedly found that these criteria are satisfied,” a TransCanada spokesperson said in a statement.

“If Keystone XL is not built, it’s clear that the oil will move to market by truck, rail and tanker, which will significantly add to global greenhouse gas emissions to move the product.”

Meanwhile, the Sierra Club of Canada said Obama’s comments on Keystone don’t “bode well” for pipeline proponents.

“Stating approval could only happen if it didn’t lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions is clearly a death sentence for Keystone,” said Sierra Club of Canada executive director John Bennett in a statement. “It’s an impossible task.”

A final State Department decision on Keystone XL is expected this fall.

After that, it will be up to Obama to either approve or reject the project.

With files from The Canadian Press