The Keystone Pipeline, run by TransCanada, reportedly began pumping this week as scheduled. It is delivering crude oil from Cushing, Oklahoma to Nederland, Texas, crossing a span of just under 500 miles. This is the southern portion of the Keystone Pipeline. Because it doesn’t cross international borders (Canada), it did not require Presidential approval to begin transporting crude.
TransCanada insists that the pipeline is carrying crude destined for refineries along the Gulf Coast that is not intended to be exported. The destination refineries have generally been used to process foreign crude; the access to domestic crude is credited to the shale oil boom.
Also known as the Gulf Coast Pipeline, this leg of Keystone crosses through the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer. Sixty counties in Texas pull drinking water from this underground source, making the possibility of a pipeline leak a contamination threat to an important water source.
There has been strong opposition to the North to South extension of a working Keystone XL pipeline. Both ground and water contamination concerns are among key reasons opponents have fought the pipeline. Leaks in Michigan and Arkansas have added credibility to the concerns of opponents. Once (if) the pipeline is extended from Canada, it will transport tar sands crude. Liquid bitumen developed from this tar sand is considered more toxic and resistant and costly to cleanup.
Source: Beaumont Enterprise, “Keystone pipeline leg to Nederland up, pumping,” January 23, 2014