Oil shipments on Wednesday began to flow through Keystone XL’s southern leg.
TransCanada announced the start of oil deliveries to Gulf Coast refineries on Wednesday morning. The shipments run from Cushing, Okla. to Nederland, Texas.
While not as controversial as its northern leg, which is still under review by the State Department, the decision by the Obama administration to allow the flow of oil through the southern Keystone leg is stirring controversy.
Green groups like the Sierra Club blasted the administration for failing to adequately review the pipeline.
“Today’s announcement is 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,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement.
“The Sierra Club will fight hard to protect the families who are now at risk, and turn the Obama administration’s shortsighted dirty energy policy around,” added Brune, who is normally a fan of Obama’s climate agenda.
The environmental advocacy group 350.org’s Bill McKibben, also pointed the finger at Obama for falling out of line with his promises to battle climate change.
“Expediting KXL south was not the mark of a president who really ‘gets’ climate change,” McKibben said in a statement on Wednesday.
The administration still faces a decision on approving Keystone’s northern leg, which would carry crude from the oil sands in Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries.
The northern leg require approval from the president because it crosses over the U.S. border with Canada.
“Climate change is a dangerous threat to our nation, to our planet. It’s a catastrophe that’s unfolding before our eyes,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told a news conference on Tuesday, as she announced the formation of the Senate Climate Action Task Force.
“And we’re very dedicated to the notion that when Congress wakes up to it, we’ll be able to have an impact and reverse the trend, so that disaster isn’t what’s waiting for our grandchildren and our children.”
Boxer noted that “18 percent of the Senate is part of this,” and she named names, starting with her own: Boxer, Whitehouse, Cantwell, Menendez, Cardin, Sanders, Klobuchar, Udall, Shaheen, Merkley, Franken, Blumenthal, Schatz, Murphy, Heinrich, King, Markey and Booker.
“We’re very realistic politicians. We understand that the makeup of Congress now is making it very difficult for us to pass climate change legislation now, but we will not sit back and give up, but we will raise the visibility of this issue, with the intent of changing minds around here.”
Sen. Boxer promised that Americans will hear from the task force “very, very often.”