U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he still doesn't have an answer on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline extension, and suggests it won't be coming any time soon.
Kerry, as well as Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Mexican Foreign Secretary Jose Antonio Meade, took questions from reporters Friday morning in Washington, with Kerry's opening remarks stressing the "unity" among the three countries.
Kerry says TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline application is making its way through the Americans' administrative process, and that his job won't start until he gets the environmental analysis.
"I think he understands that," Kerry said, referring to Baird.
"We are currently engaged in environmental impact statement analysis. An analysis will be made with respect to the national interest ultimately and we're just not at that point yet. I haven't received it. They haven't finished it. "
Kerry said the administration is responding to questions raised in the public comment period for the environmental analysis.
"I can promise our friends in Canada that all the appropriate effort is being put into trying to get this done effectively and rapidly. And, you know, my hope is that before long that analysis will be available and then my work begins."
Baird pushes for Keystone decision
TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline extension is bound to come up again in Baird's bilateral meeting with Kerry later Friday, especially given the Canadian government's support for the project.
Baird called the pipeline project "tremendously important" for Canada's future prosperity, and emphasized the amount of time the approval process has dragged on.
Former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton called him more than two years ago to discuss environmental concerns with the pipeline, which TransCanada then rerouted, Baird said.
"We hope the final State Department report is out in short order, and that the administration will be in a position to make a positive decision," he said.
In his one-minute answer, Baird referred to the pipeline as a "great project" three times.
On Thursday, Baird told a D.C. business crowd that it was time for a decision on the pipeline, "even if it's not the right one."
The project has been in limbo for several years awaiting approval by the State Department.
The pipeline crosses the Canada-U.S. border, so requires the department to sign off.
1st trilateral meeting
This is the first time since Kerry became secretary of state that he, Baird and Mexico's foreign secretary have met. Kerry said he hopes to visit both Mexico and Canada in the future.
"I've often found myself in absolute awe about how extraordinary this continent really is," Kerry said.
"North America is a remarkable, remarkable unity of three very important and powerful countries that share values and interest. We are three nations separated by peaceful borders. This is something that is not every day, everywhere in the world today," he said.
Meeting soon after the 20th anniversary of NAFTA, Kerry pointed to the amount of trade undertaken by the three countries: about a third of all the trade conducted by the U.S.
Trade between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico is worth more than $1 trillion a year and more than $100 billion a month, Kerry said.