WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Wednesday blamed his Republican opponents for imposing an "arbitrary" deadline on his review of TransCanada Corp's plan to build the Keystone XL Canada-to-Texas crude oil pipeline, which led to its rejection.

"This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people," Obama said in a statement. "I'm disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision."

(Reporting By Alister Bull and David Alexander; Editing by Sandra Maler)