The U.S. State Department this year determined no significant environmental danger posed by TransCanada's planned Keystone XL oil pipeline. The pipeline would carry oil from tar sands in Alberta province in Canada to refineries along the southern U.S. coast.
Obama told a Nebraska television reporter this week that he would consider the State Department's recommendations "when they come to me."
The State Department needs to review the project because it would cross international boundaries. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama would have the final say on the project, however.
"This is the Obama administration, and we certainly don't expect, and the president doesn't expect, and you should not expect, that the ultimate outcome of this process will do anything but reflect the president's views," he said.
The White House had earlier deflected the decision to the State Department.
Critics of the project point to potential conflicts of interest at the State Department and the potential for environmental damage from Keystone XL. The planned route for the pipeline is near a key aquifer in Nebraska.
Backers of the project said it would provide significant employment opportunities and enhance regional energy security.
Obama said, during his interview this week, he expected reports on Keystone XL "over the next several months."
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