If Obama approves the pipeline, it will begin a series of additional permits, approvals and authorizations, with operation set to launch in 2013. The $7 billion, 36-inch pipeline, called the Keystone XL, is expected to deliver 830,000 barrels, or 34.9 million gallons, per day across Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma into Texas.
TransCanada, a leading North American pipeline operator, started operation of Keystone I, a 36-inch pipeline system, in June 2010, making it possible to deliver Canadian oil to markets across Midwest farmland in several states, from the Dakotas through Illinois. Keystone XL will incorporate a section of that existing pipeline in its delivery through the bottom half of the US.
Environmentalists say TransCanada has a failed safety record regarding its pipeline operations.
Federal regulators shut down Keystone I following two leaks, on May 7 and May 29. The first released 400 barrels, or 16,800 gallons, of crude oil in Sargent County, North Dakota. The second involved a leak at a pump station in Doniphan County, Kan., which released 10 barrels, or 420 gallons, of crude oil into the environment. The pipeline was restarted days later.