"[President Barack Obama] has an obligation to the far-left environmentalists and their crown jewel is that pipeline," he was quoted as saying in a report published Monday by the Chickasha (Okla.) Express-Star. "I think he will probably maintain his opposition as long as he can hold out."
Keystone XL was proposed by pipeline company TransCanada more than five years ago. The project needs federal approval as a cross-border pipeline.
The heavier grade of Canadian crude oil designated for Keystone XL is considered more carbon intensive to produce than rival grades. Obama said he'd weigh the project against its potential environmental footprint.
Shawn Howard, a spokesman for TransCanada, said in an emailed statement the so-called Gulf Coast Project, a 485-mile pipeline from Oklahoma to the southern U.S. coast, was moving closer to commercial service.
The project is considered the domestic U.S. leg of Keystone XL. It didn't require the same permits as the latter because it lies entirely within the territorial United States.
"Over the coming weeks, TransCanada will inject about three million of barrels of oil into the system, beginning in Cushing, Okla., and moving down to the company's facilities in the Houston refining area," he said Monday.