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President Barack Obama said he will await Secretary of State John Kerry’s recommendation before deciding whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline after a new State Department report concluded the project would have minimal impact on the environment.
"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 said on Fox News Chanel's "The O'Reilly Factor" in an interview set to air Monday.
Though there is no hard deadline for when the Obama administration must make a final decision on the pipeline's construction, Friday's report has increased pressure on the White House to approve the pipeline that would carry crude from the oil sands in Canada to refineries in the United States.
Obama previously said the pipeline should only be built if it "does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution."
Many Republicans, as well as business and labor groups, argue that the project will create jobs and boost the economy, while environmental groups fear the project would accelerate climate change.
The State Department report found that blocking the $7 billion project by TransCanada Corp would not slow Canada's expansion of the oil sands. However, the report also concluded the crude from the oil sands does do more harm to the environment than the current oil being used in the U.S.
In the interview Obama sparred with O'Reilly over the economic impact of Keystone, dismissing the TV host's claim that the project will create 42,000 jobs.
"It's not 42,000. That's that that's not correct," Obama said. "It's a couple thousand to build the pipeline."
The report estimated that more than 42,000 jobs would be supporter during the pipeline's construction, but only about 50 jobs once operational.
The interview was taped Sunday and portions of it aired ahead of the Super Bowl, but the Keystone segment is set to air Monday night.
At the White House briefing on Monday, press secretary Jay Carney told reporters, "The submission of the Environmental Impact Statement is a point in the process that now continues. It's an important piece of it, but it is only part of a process that must continue...the president's view is we don't interfere with that process, we let it play itself out."