TransCanada, the company seeking to build the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline from oil sands formations in Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries, received the final go-ahead from the federal government on Friday for the southern leg of the project.
The Army Corps of Engineers granted the final permits for a 400-mile portion of the pipeline that will run from the major oil depots of Cushing, Okla., to refineries on the Texas coast.
President Obama has blessed the southern portion of the pipeline, now dubbed the Gulf Coast Project, while withholding approval on the far more controversial section of the pipeline that runs from Canada through the northern Great Plains.
Mr. Obama has said that the company must reroute the pipeline to avoid sensitive lands and waters before he will consider granting a construction permit. That decision will not be made until after the November presidential election.
Environmentalists and landowners along the proposed pipeline route have objected to the project because they say a leak would be devastating to fragile waterways, wetlands and wilderness areas. Some also object to shipping the heavy crude from Canada because extracting it is environmentally damaging and burning it contributes to global warming.