CUSHING, Okla. - Construction could begin in a few weeks on the southern end of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will be used to deliver oil from Cushing to refineries in Southeast Texas.
Meanwhile, the company building the 484-mile pipeline, TransCanada Corp., isn't giving up on its proposed northern pipeline, which was rejected by the Obama administration in January.
In rejecting the northern project, which would have brought oil from Canada's "Tar Sands" region to the Gulf, the administration said it needed more time to study the issue, but critics accuse the president of caving to liberal environmentalists.
The president did come out in favor of the southern portion of the pipeline, however.
"There's a bottleneck right here because we can't get enough of the oil to our refineries fast enough," President Obama said in explaining his support for the project.
The southern end of the pipeline did not need the president's approval.
But by lending his support, the president helped the company cut through bureaucratic red tape, thereby speeding up the project's timetable.
When President Obama visited Cushing in March, he said the pipeline would mean jobs for Oklahomans.
"Not only are we going to see jobs and growth here in Cushing, Oklahoma, we're going to see it all across the country," said Obama.
Residents in Cushing said they're looking forward to construction starting on the pipeline.
"It works all around. It brings people to town to spend money and to local businesses, to stay in the new motels we got in town and stay at the restaurants," said Ryan Bagwell of Cushing.
Cushing resident Jonathon Pauley agrees.
"I actually think it's a good idea. It's going to give us jobs here in Cushing and around the area, drive the oil prices down," said Pauley.
According to TransCanada, construction on the southern portion could begin as soon as June and be finished in late 2014 or early 2015.
Meanwhile, the company hopes revising its proposed northern pipeline will help dampen the political firestorm that has been created, causing the government to approve their new application.
Because the northern portion of the pipeline crosses the U.S. border from Canada, the State Department will decide whether to issue a permit.
The decision likely won't be made until next year.
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