New U.S. secretary of state shouldn't change Keystone odds

CALGARY, Alberta Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:15am IST

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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The prospect of a new U.S. secretary of state should not change the odds of the Canada-to-United States Keystone XL oil pipeline being approved, since previous studies concluded that carbon emissions will not rise as a result of the project, the chief executive of proponent TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO) said on Monday.

TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said the major issue should not be climate change, as the Canadian oil sands will be developed regardless of the pipeline's approval, but a question of where the United States wants to source its crude oil imports.

"I think anybody in that position will look at those facts objectively and come to the conclusion that the national interest of the United States is best served by the approval of the Keystone pipeline, and stringent oversight, obviously, on pipeline safety, which they do in the United States today," Girling said in an interview with Reuters.

There is a possibility the U.S. State Department will have a new secretary before the department's deadline of the end of March for a decision on the project. Democratic Senator John Kerry, who has long supported taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is widely expected to be the nominee.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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