By Roberta Rampton and Steve Holland
WASHINGTON Feb 3 President Barack Obama made
clear he would make the ultimate call on whether to approve the
Keystone XL crude oil pipeline from Canada, and played down the
number of jobs the project could create in a Fox News interview
to air on Monday.
In recent days, officials from the White House and State
Department have emphasized Secretary of State John Kerry's role
in determining whether the $5.4 billion project should go ahead,
and have shied away from describing Obama's role.
Kerry is reviewing an 11-volume environmental impact study,
and will seek comment in the next three months from other
federal agencies and the public on whether the pipeline is in
the national interest.
"The process now goes: agencies comment on what the State
Department did, public's allowed to comment, Kerry's going to
give me a recommendation," Obama told Fox News Channel's "The
The interview was taped on Sunday, but the Keystone segment
is set to air on Monday night.
Obama has said in the past that he believed the pipeline
should go ahead "only if this project does not significantly
exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution."
The huge State Department study released on Friday showed
that blocking the pipeline would do little to slow the expansion
of Canada's oil sands, although it noted that the crude from the
project was more polluting than the oil it would replace in the
Environmental groups have said the project would speed up
climate change, while business and labor groups have argued the
project would be good for the economy and create jobs.
Republicans have led a major push for approval of the pipeline.
In the interview, Obama contested a statement by Fox News'
Bill O'Reilly that the project would create 42,000 jobs.
"It's not 42,000," Obama said. "That's not correct. It's a
couple thousand to build the pipeline."
The State Department report said the project would support
about 42,100 jobs during construction, including about 3,900
construction jobs - about 1,950 a year for what is expected to
be a two-year project.
Other jobs would come from suppliers of goods and services
to the project and from spending by people working on the
pipeline that in turn supports other jobs, the report said.
Once the pipeline is running, it will support about 50 jobs,
the report said.