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A worker cleans up leaked oil after last week A worker cleans up leaked oil after last week's explosion of a Sinopec Corp oil pipeline in Huangdao, Qingdao, Shandong Province November 25, 2013. REUTERS/Aly Song  

Oil begins flowing through Keystone pipeline

Oil has begun moving through the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline to the great dismay of environmentalists, who have been actively protesting the pipeline for years.

The Longview News-Journal reports that TransCanada has begun moving oil through the Keystone XL pipeline’s southern leg, which stretched from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf Coast. TransCanada said that it expects the pipeline to start making oil deliveries to Gulf coast refineries by the end of the year.

“TransCanada is pleased to confirm that at approximately 10:04 am Central Time on Saturday, December 7, 2013, the company began to inject oil into the Gulf Coast Project pipeline as it moves closer to the start of commercial service,”a  TransCanada spokesman said in an email to the News-Journal.

The San Antonio Express-News reported that environmental groups met with the State Department in a closed-door meeting on Monday to air their grievances about approving Keystone’s northern leg from Canada to Oklahoma.

The Express-News reported that “the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, 350.org, League of Conservation Voters and Voices for Progress outlined their concerns” to State Department assistant secretary Kerri-Ann Jones, asking her to revise the department’s previous pipeline review which showed Keystone wouldn’t significantly impact the environment.

The southern leg of the pipeline will be able to bring up to 700,000 barrels a day to Gulf Coast refineries. However, many refineries are eager to see the Obama administration approve the northern portion of the Keystone pipeline to gain increased access to Canadian oil sands crude which is very lucrative for them to process, according to the News-Journal.

However, the Obama administration has been stalling on the approval of Keystone’s northern section for more than five years. Over the summer, President Obama said that he would only support the pipeline’s approval if it didn’t significantly raise U.S. carbon dioxide emissions — precisely what his own State Department found it would not do.

Environmental groups have taken up the challenge to prove that Keystone fails Obama emissions test, issuing reports arguing that Keystone would in fact significantly raise carbon dioxide emissions.

“Keystone XL is a climate disaster,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “The President set a tough climate test for the pipeline, which it clearly fails to pass. There is no wiggle room here, Mr. President.”

“Keystone XL fails his climate test and certainly is not in the interests of the United States,” said San Francisco billionaire and anti-Keystone activist Tom Steyer.

However, the State Department found earlier this year that the Keystone pipeline would not significantly add to U.S. carbon emissions because oil will be extracted and brought to market regardless of whether or not the pipeline is built.

Furthermore, prominent climate experts have criticized environmentalists for over-blowing the environmental impacts of the pipeline.

“The extreme statements — that this is ‘game over’ for the planet — are clearly not intellectually true…” said David Keith, a Canadian climate scientist now at Harvard University, adding that, “I am completely against Keystone, both as an Albertan and somebody who cares about the climate.”

“I don’t believe that whether the pipeline is built or not will have any detectable climate effect,” said Ken Caldeira, a climate researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science in California, adding that Obama needed to “signal whether we are going to move toward zero-emission energy systems or whether we are going to move forward with last century’s energy systems.”

“As a serious strategy for dealing with climate, blocking Keystone is a waste of time. But as a strategy for arousing passion, it is dynamite.” said David Victor, a global warming policy expert at the University of California, San Diego.

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