Keystone XL pipeline developer TransCanada Corp. won’t stop pushing to build the project even if the White House rejects it, the company’s CEO said.

Asked if White House disapproval would be the end of the road, CEO Russ Girling replied: “How can it be?”

“Oil is still going to move every day, and there has got to be a way to get it there,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

His comments suggest the yearslong political and lobbying battle over Keystone, a project environmentalists are pressing the White House to scuttle, could outlast the Obama presidency.

The company has for years been seeking a federal permit to bring crude from Canadian oil sands across the border en route to Gulf Coast refineries.

It hopes for a favorable decision within the first few months of 2014. “We would like to advance it as quickly as we possibly can while recognizing there is a process that we need to adhere to,” said Girling, who met with a senior State Department official Tuesday.

But Girling told The Hill that he believes demand for the project would not go away if Obama says no. Companies turning to rail to move oil from Canada and the Bakken region in North Dakota would have incentive to use Keystone if it’s built, Girling said.