State Dept.: Tillerson Has Recused Himself from Matters Pertaining to Keystone Pipeline

Posted March 11, 2017

The US secretary of state has stepped away from dealing with issues related to the controversial Keystone pipeline, because he used to run an oil company.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Thursday that Tillerson decided in early February to recuse himself from TransCanada's application.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has recused himself from any issues and deliberations around the Keystone XL oil pipeline project, a statement from the State Department revealed.

McManus' letter came after Greenpeace wrote to officials at the State Department and the Office of Government Ethics on Wednesday, urging Tillerson recuse himself from any decisions on the multibillion-dollar pipeline, given his former role as chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corp.

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The State Department would not say exactly when Tillerson made that decision.

The State Department said Tuesday that Tillerson would "play no role in the deliberations or ultimate resolution" of the application from TransCanada, the company seeking to build the worldwide energy pipeline.

TransCanada quickly refiled an application to build its pipeline.

Within a week of assuming office, President Donald Trump had invited TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. (TransCanada), to re-submit its application to the Department of State for a Presidential permit for the Keystone project. According to a recent poll, Albertans, who stand to benefit directly from Keystone XL's construction, are strongly in favor of it, with 77 percent of respondents in the poll saying so.

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After the receiving the State department's response noting Tillerson's recusal Thursday, Greenpeace responded with an additional statement. When Trump signed the order on the Keystone permit in January, the State Department was given 60 days to make a decision, a timeline that expires in about two weeks.

Despite congressional approval and after a seven-year review, President Barack Obama rejected the project in November 2015.

Tillerson has to fully divest from Exxon by May as part of an agreement with the Office of Government Ethics.

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