Kerry wants Keystone pipeline decision 'sooner rather than later'

OTTAWA (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday during a visit to Canada that he would like to make a decision soon on TransCanada Corp's Keystone XL crude oil pipeline. TransCanada has waited more than six years for the Obama administration to make a decision on the line, which would take as much as 830,000 barrels per day of Alberta tar sands crude to refineries on Texas' Gulf Coast. The State Department is now awaiting the results of a court challenge on the line's routing through Nebraska and completing its own study on the need for the line before it makes a final recommendation to President Barack Obama on whether to grant the project a presidential permit. The permit would allow the line, which faces criticism from environmentalists, to cross from Canada into the United States. While Kerry said he would like a quick decision on the project, he gave no hint as to when that would come. "I certainly want to do it sooner rather than later but I can't tell you the precise date," Kerry told a joint news conference with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. The delay has pushed up the cost of the line, which would run from Hardisty, Alberta, to near Houston. The company said last month that Keystone XL's original $5.4 billion estimate is likely half of what it will now cost to build the pipeline. (Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Randall Palmer; Additional reporting by Scott Haggett in Calgary; Editing by Sandra Maler, Bill Trott and Tom Brown)