Kerry punts on pipeline probe

US Senator John Kerry listens to a question during his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing to be secretary of state, on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 24, 2013.

Credits: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. John Kerry, likely America's next secretary of state, bobbed and weaved around questions about the Keystone XL pipeline Thursday.

Kerry, who appeared before the senate's foreign relations committee as part of his nomination process, didn't tip his hand on what he thinks of the $7-billion project that would ship about 700,000 barrels of crude a day from Canada's oilsands to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.

When California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer asked whether he is committed to reviewing the application with a view to protect the environment, Kerry said he'll wait for the review to be completed before making a decision.

When asked by Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso whether Kerry would try to make a decision before the end of March, Kerry differed to the bureaucracy.

"I will try,” he said. “I don't want to make a promise that I'm unaware can be fulfilled.”

It will ultimately be the State Department that advises President Barack Obama whether to approve TransCanada's application.

Kerry has been a staunch climate change activist for decades. Keystone opponents welcomed his appointment because they believe he will likely reject the project.

But Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry, heiress to the Heinz ketchup fortune, have investments in two Canadian oil companies totalling about $1 million, according to financial disclosure documents.

Those companies would benefit from the Keystone XL pipeline being built.

Kerry has agreed to divest his holdings within 90 days of becoming secretary of state to avoid any conflict of interest.

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