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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice speaking at the White House in Washington. Reuters

Advocacy groups are demanding that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who is widely believed to be President Barack Obama's likely nominee for U.S. secretary of state, dispose of any shares she has in a controversial Canadian oil company and its related entities.

They are issuing the call now for Rice to remove a potential conflict of interest concerning the approximately $600,000 worth of investments she and her husband made in TransCanada Corp., the company looking to construct the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

The State Department is reviewing the proposal for the project that will transport tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to Texas refineries. Environmentalists and other green groups are against this huge cross-border project.

“It is disturbing that one of the United States’ top diplomats has such investments in such a dirty project,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of international program at the Natural Defense Resources Council, or NRDC. “She should start ridding herself now of investments in TransCanada and tar sands holdings.”

Casey-Lefkowitz said she expects the ambassador will act accordingly and dump shares she may have in these companies. She added that it is important that a “fair and rigorous review of this dirty project” is conducted.

President Obama has decided against a quick approval of the project, noting the State Department needs considerable time to collect the required information to review the project. The State Department has also said it would delay consideration until after the 2012 election.

Advocates call the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline project a “dirty” one because there’s the potential for water and soil contamination resulting from the approximately 700,000 barrels of crude oil that would navigate the pipeline daily.

“It’s indefensible that Susan Rice has millions of dollars invested in oil companies and banks that will make huge profits if the State Department gives approval to the XL pipeline,” advocacy group RootsAction stated in its online petition.

The petition “demand[s] that Rice immediately sell every dollar of stock in every one of those companies.”

A call to Ambassador Rice's office was not returned as of Friday at 3 p.m. EST.