- The Washington Times - Friday, February 8, 2013

“Obviously, the Keystone XL pipeline is a huge priority for our government and for the Canadian economy,” Mr. Baird said.

The 1,700-mile pipeline would transport oil sands from Canada through the U.S. to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico coastline.

Mr. Obama had initially tried to delay a decision on the pipeline until after last year’s elections and then, when forced to make a final decision by a law passed by Congress, he rejected the application.

But a new application has been submitted and approved by the governor of Nebraska, which had been a sticking point. Now anticipation is mounting in Washington, where the State Department — which has final say because the pipeline crosses the international boundary — is expected to soon issue a final review of the proposal.

It remains to be seen how heavily Mr. Kerry’s personal positions may weigh on the decision.

Prior to being named secretary of state, he spent years as one of the loudest voices in Congress warning about climate change, and environmental groups say the pipeline and the oil from the tar sands contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

Several environmental groups are now expressing hope Mr. Kerry will use his newfound power to quash the pipeline application.

But Mr. Kerry did not expose his hand Friday, saying only that he’s committed to seeing the process through and said the review is “very open and transparent.”

Mr. Baird said he and Mr. Kerry “spoke about making a decision based on science and based on facts.”

“When it comes to the environment, I think we have like-minded objectives,” the Canadian foreign minister said, adding that like President Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has supported reductions in pollution from automobiles.