Keystone XL oil pipeline company, TransCanada Corp., said Monday that it would begin building the southern portion of its controversial project.
The Oklahoma to Gulf Coast route will avoid a review by US authorities and the need for a presidential permit required to build the entire length of the pipeline from Alberta, Canada to refineries in the US south.
According to Reuters, TransCanada stated that it plans to have the route operational by mid to late 2013 and would cost the company $2.3 billion.
The Calgary-based company said that the southern leg of the pipeline would create 4,000 American jobs, yet the number of permanent jobs the project would eventually create is highly disputed, according to the Rapid City Journal.
President Obama initially rejected the company's Keystone XL application in January, stating that it needed more time for an environmental review.
Yet, according to the Guardian, the White House welcomed the construction of the southern pipeline project, which it said may help to expedite the necessary permits.
“Moving oil from the Midwest to the world-class, state-of-the-art refineries on the Gulf Coast will modernize our infrastructure, create jobs, and encourage American energy production,” White House spokesperson Jay Carney is quoted as saying in the Washington Post.
The move was heavily criticized by environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, who said that the new pipeline project was a "dirty trick"
Critics of the pipeline are not only concerned about the environmental impact of the pipeline running through environmentally sensitive areas, said the Los Angeles Times, but also that it will promote the production of oil from tar sands in Canada, a carbon-heavy process.
According to CNN, TransCanada said it had the approval of 99 per cent of land owners in Oklahoma and Texas on whose land the new pipeline would be built.
TransCanada said recently that it will reapply for the northern portion of the pipeline running from Canada, which still requires US government approval.