WASHINGTON — While rejecting TransCanada’s initial Keystone XL pipeline application to build the pipeline across the border from Canada, President Obama has embraced the southern leg of the project, which would ease a bottleneck that is slowing the movement of oil supplies from Canada and North Dakota to refineries on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
On March 22 in the Cushing, Okla., oil terminal and pipeline crossroads, Obama directed agencies ‘‘to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority . . . and get it done.” ’
On Friday, TransCanada received the last of three permits it needed from the Army Corps of Engineers to begin construction on the 485-mile stretch of pipeline.
The permits dealt a blow to efforts by national environmental groups to slow the momentum behind the southern leg of the project — now also known as the Gulf Coast project. Those groups, including Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club, have urged their Texas supporters to send comments to the Army Corps, which governs pipeline permits there.
But the Army Corps has moved ahead. The Galveston branch on June 25 gave TransCanada the go-ahead for a stretch of the line, even though the agency said that the 36-inch pipeline would cross 654 ‘‘aquatic features.’’
‘‘Please let us know when you complete your project by returning the enclosed pre-addressed postcard,’’ the Galveston District regulatory branch chief Fred L. Anthamatten said in his letter to TransCanada’s Houston office.
The Galveston District said TransCanada would use horizontal drilling to burrow under the water areas, but in some places would have to offset damage by buying credits from the Piney Woods Wetland Mitigation Bank, which was established by The Conservation Fund in 2008 to restore native hardwood forest.
On June 29, the Tulsa, Okla., branch of the Corps also issued a permit for the line and the Fort Worth district added its approval Friday.