USA secretary of state Rex Tillerson has recused himself from issues related to TransCanada Corp's application for a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, the state department said in a letter on Thursday to the environmental group Greenpeace.
A message sent out by the State Department on Thursday said Tillerson decided in February to recuse himself from TransCanada's application for a presidential permit for the pipeline.
"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", said the letter from Katherine McManus, the state department's deputy legal adviser.
TransCanada, a Canada based Energy Company, submitted an application last month to move ahead with the pipeline to bring crude oil from Alberta's tar sands to USA refineries.
Greenpeace on Wednesday called for Tillerson to recuse himself from matters involving Keystone XL, citing his former position as CEO of Exxon, and started a petition to ask the U.S. Office of Government Ethics to "publicly urge" for his recusal.
During his first week in office, President Donald Trump signed executive actions to advance approval of the controversial pipeline, which the Obama administration had blocked.
A senior State Department official said this week: "We're looking at the agreement, [Secretary Tillerson] has recognised that climate change is an issue but, like many of our policies and many of our agreements, all this is still under review".