Undeterred by Obama’s rejection of permit applications for the Keystone XL pipeline earlier this month, TransCanada have announced that they will move forward with the southern section of the controversial project. The Canadian firm is to start work on the $2.3 billion dollar, “Cushing MarketLink” phase of the pipeline, which would run from Cushing, OK, to the Gulf Coast refinery town of Port Arthur, TX. TransCanada will meanwhile refile permit applications to construct a second pipeline from the ecologically devastating Alberta Tar Sands across the U.S. border to Steele City, Nebraska.

image © flickr user jczart

In a crushing blow to activists, White House Spokesperson Jay Carney told the Washington Post that Obama welcomes the southbound extension of the line: “Moving oil from the Midwest to the world-class, state-of-the-art refineries on the Gulf Coast will modernize our infrastructure, create jobs, and encourage American energy production.” Furthermore, the administration will “take every step possible to expedite the necessary federal permits.”

While this particular section of the pipeline will not necessarily expand production and export of oil from the Alberta Tar Sands, the pipelines themselves pose a horrific threat to the environment. TarSandsAction.org found that TransCanada predicted the Keystone I pipeline would see one spill in 7 years, but instead encountered a whopping 12 spills in 1 year: “The company was ordered to dig up 10 sections of pipe after government-ordered tests indicated that defective steel may have been used. KeystoneXL will use steel from the same Indian manufacturer.” These leaks caused a yet un-assessed toxic pollution in surrounding land. The Keystone pipelines carry highly corrosive diluted bitumen or “dilbit” from the Tar Sands, which contains toxic heavy metals such as arsenic and hazardous chemicals such as benzene.

Futhermore, 350.org founder Bill McKibben voiced concerns that TransCanada may be less-than-ethical in their efforts to acquire land for the pipeline, stating that their decision to being work on the southern section “is a nifty excuse to steal some land by eminent domain… it’s the usual ugly power grab and land grab by the fossil fuel industry.”

via the Washington Post

Lead image © flickr user Loozrboy