Oil began flowing Wednesday through the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, as a massive environmental battle continues over whether President Barack Obama should approve the northern portion to tap Canadian oil sands.
The southern part of the pipeline runs 487 miles from Cushing, Okla., to refineries in Texas. Keystone developer TransCanada hopes to soon get permission to start building the northern leg and bring controversial Canadian crude to the Gulf Coast.
The planned 1,179-mile northern leg gets most of the attention because the Canadian oil sands result in more planet-warming gases than conventional oil. But Keystone opponents in Texas have been fighting the southern section for years.
“The pipeline starting does nothing more than fuel my anger,” said Julia Trigg Crawford, who fought unsuccessfully in court to prevent TransCanada from using eminent domain to run the Keystone pipeline under her land near Paris in northeast Texas.
TransCanada said the southern leg can ship up to 830,000 barrels a day and help relieve the bottleneck of crude in Cushing, the Oklahoma town that is the world’s largest oil storage hub. The pipeline runs from there to Nederland, Texas, with a planned spur to refineries around Houston.