Feb 23, 2013 / 7:20 pm
While the debate continues over whether the United States will approve a proposed oil conduit from Canada to the Gulf Coast, the segment from Cushing, Okla., to the Texas Gulf Coast is halfway toward completion and could be transporting oil by the end of the year.
President Barack Obama travelled to Oklahoma nearly a year ago to tout construction of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline from the Cushing oil hub to Houston-area refineries. A decision on whether to allow the longer pipeline awaits the results of a U.S. State Department review that is necessary because the oil would be carried across an international border.
Nearly 4,000 workers in Oklahoma and Texas are aligning and welding a 485-mile section, TransCanada spokesman David Dodson told The Associated Press.
"We're right at peak right now," he said. "We hope to have it in operation by the end of this year."
TransCanada applied for a federal permit almost five years ago but its construction has become controversial. Environmentalists warn of potential spills and say extracting and using tar sands oil, which the pipeline would carry from Alberta, would worsen climate change. Unions and TransCanada counter the project will bring thousands of jobs and bolster the United States' oil supply from its friends and neighbours.
Obama rejected the permit early last year but left the door open for a retry that the State Department is currently considering. A decision could come by summer.
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