The US Congress led by Republicans had passed a bill approving the fourth phase of the Keystone pipeline project, which President Barack Obama is expected to veto.

Passed by the Senate in January, the bill had the backing of 270 members at the House of Representatives, while 152 members rejected it.

However, Obama can still veto the bill, as the supporters could not attain two-thirds of the vote needed to override a veto in both Senate and Congress.

Obama, a Democrat, had earlier vowed to oppose the bill, as he wants the State Department to finish its assessment of the pipeline first before giving it the go ahead.

"As we have made clear, the president will veto this bill," a White House official told Fox News.

The Keystone Pipeline is an oil pipeline project in Canada and the US, running from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Alberta to refineries in Illinois and Texas in the US. Three phases of the project are already in operation.

The proposed fourth phase, known as Keystone XL Pipeline, will duplicate the phase one pipeline between Hardisty, Alberta, and Steele City, Nebraska with a shorter route and a larger-diameter pipe. The 1,179-mile pipeline is expected to carry 830,000 barrels a day of mostly Canadian oil sands petroleum to Nebraska.

Supporters of the project say it would create thousands of construction jobs and make the country less dependent on foreign oil, while opponents point out an increase in carbon pollution and possible spillage that could stop much of the freshwater supply in the Great Plains' agricultural states.

The Keystone pipeline's costs have almost doubled to $8bn since its initial planning phases, IBTimes UK had reported earlier.