WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has formally denied a TransCanada Corp <TRP.TO> request to pause the U.S. review of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, a State Department spokesman said on Wednesday.
TransCanada's request for a delay was seen by many as an attempt to avert a rejection from an increasingly environmentally focused President Barack Obama and postpone the decision until after the November 2016 presidential election.
The White House declined to comment.
TransCanada said it respects the State Department's decision and will continue to press for approval.
Secretary of State John Kerry has not given a timeline for making a recommendation.
"The secretary believes that, out of respect for that process and all the input that has gone into it, that it is the most appropriate thing to keep that process in place, to continue the review," State Department spokesman John Kirby told a briefing.
The State Department must issue a recommendation because the project crosses the border with Canada.
Since it was proposed seven years ago, the $8 billion pipeline has been the heart of a struggle between environmentalists opposed to oil sands development and defenders of fossil fuels.
The nearly 1,200-mile (2,000-km) pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels a day of mostly Canadian oil sands crude to Nebraska en route to refineries and ports along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
TransCanada's share were up 1.5 percent at C$45.10 in afternoon trading.
(Reporting by David Alexander and Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)