WASHINGTON (AP) — A White House spokesman says the State Department is reviewing the request from the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, which is asking that the government put on hold its consideration of the project.

(Getty Images- Tom Pennington)

The request comes amid speculation that President Barack Obama may reject the project. And if the government agrees to suspend its review, that would instead leave the decision in the hands of the next president.

Democratic candidates, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, oppose the project. Republican candidates support it.

But the head of TransCanada, Russ Girling, denies that the request for a pause in the review has anything to do with an anticipated rejection by the Obama administration. The company says it's asking for the delay while it tries to secure approval of its preferred route through Nebraska, in the face of legal challenges.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama still intends to make a decision about the pipeline before leaving office. And Earnest says it's important to consider what is motivating the company's request for a delay, which he says "seems unusual."