State Department: Tillerson recuses himself from issues related to Keystone Pipeline

He was sworn in as Secretary on February 1, just over a week after President Donald Trump signed an executive order on January 24 to advance the Keystone pipeline's construction, along with that of the Dakota Access pipeline.

Greenpeace Climate Campaign Specialist Diana Best said in a statement responding to the recusal letter that Tillerson's role "might have never been transparent to the public without people flooding the lines of the Office of Government Ethics today".

"He has not worked on that matter at the Department of State and will play no role in the deliberations or ultimate resolution of TransCanada's application", McManus wrote.

"The delays and political machinations that have delayed the Keystone XL pipeline are the poster child for a much deeper problem hindering progress and advancement in this country", he said in the speech, adding that the USA regulatory process was stifling innovation. President-elect Donald Trump selected Tillerson to lead the State Department on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016.

TransCanada quickly refiled an application to build its pipeline.

The former chief of oil giant ExxonMobil removed himself from discussions concerning the TransCanada Corporation's application for a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. 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.

The project entails a planned 1,179-mile (1,897km) pipeline running from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would join an existing pipe.

Mr Tillerson was sworn in as secretary just a week after the president signed an executive order to move forward with the controversial pipeline's construction.

In any case, the Trump administration has already said it intends to approve the project and has given Tillerson's department 60 days to make a decision on the latest application by TransCanada Corp., meaning an announcement could come next month.

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