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Keystone XL: One Leg Open, But Bigger Battle to Come

Keystone XL mapThe southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline is now up and running, taking crude from Cushing, Okla., to Nederland, Texas.

Developer TransCanada says the 487-mile leg will help relieve a bottleneck of crude in Cushing, the world’s biggest oil storage hub. The southern leg can ship up to 830,000 barrels a day, the Miami Herald reports.

Some environmental groups attacked the Obama administration for allowing the southern leg to go ahead. Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune described the start of operations as “a painful example of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy plan at work: polluted air and water, carbon pollution, and the ever present threat of poisoned drinking water for millions of Texas and Oklahoma families,” according to The Hill.

Landowners opposed to the pipeline have vowed to monitor it vigilantly for leaks, NPR reports.

Meanwhile, the State Department must still make a decision on Keystone‘s longer northern leg, which would enable crude from Alberta’s oil sands to flow down to the US Gulf Coast. The final decision is up to President Obama, who has said that he will block the pipeline if it increases carbon emissions.

In October, a diverse group of over 150 companies, including AT&T, Motorola, Siemens, Volvo and Wyndham Worldwide, urged Obama to approve construction of the northern leg. They said that approval for the project would maintain investor confidence, enhance American competitiveness and cut energy prices for households and businesses.

Takeaway: The southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline has started operations, but larger battles loom.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

Map credit: TransCanada

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