WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Environmental groups blasted U.S. President Obama as oil began to flow Wednesday though the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The northern leg is still under review by the U.S. State Department, and would bring oil from Canada to Texas. Environmentalists say any leaks would threaten a vital aquifer in Nebraska. Administration approval is necessary because the pipeline crosses the Canadian-U.S. border.
TransCanada, which is building the pipeline, said oil deliveries to Gulf Coast refineries began Wednesday morning, with shipments being piped from Cushing, Okla., to Nederland, Texas, the Hill reported.
Environmental groups assailed the new development.
"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.
Brune, normally a supporter of the administration's agenda, added: "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."
The Hill also quoted the environmental advocacy group 350.org's Bill McKibben: "Expediting KXL south was not the mark of a president who really 'gets' climate change."
TransCanada said the opening of the southern leg would be an important milestone.