The answer comes in a letter to TransCanada two days after the Calgary-based company raised eyebrows with its unexpected request for a delay.
That request was interpreted by the administration as a political move, aimed at increasing its chance of approval by a possible future Republican administration — something the company denies.
In any case, the request has been mooted. A State Department spokesman says there's no obligation, nor is there a legal basis, for slowing down a permit-review process at the behest of an applicant.
Department spokesman John Kirby says the review is proceeding.
Given the repeated negative comments President Barack Obama has made about the pipeline, he's widely expected to turn down the request.