"The southern leg of the pipeline has been constructed, starting in the heart of Cushing, Okla., and is already moving to the market vast amounts of resources that are being produced in our country's current energy boom," Inhofe said in a statement. "Like Americans across the country, I call on the president to stop blocking construction of the northern leg of the Keystone pipeline."
Environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, say the pipeline would transport polluted tar sands from Canada to the Gulf Coast,only to have about half of it exported internationally, said Anthony Swift, an attorney for the group.
"The extraction process for tar sands is very similar to strip-mining; it's very damaging," Swift said Thursday. He added that the pipeline could pose environmental hazards to land, water and communities.
In Cushing, where more than 400 people were put to work on the southern leg that recently became operational, Chamber of Commerce executive director Brent Thompson said it would be difficult to estimate the impact that completing the XL would have on the town, mainly since it already felt the economic benefits from the completed leg.
"It might add a job or two," Thompson said. "I don't know if it would have a significant impact on us. The pipeline's full of oil now and everything's essentially done. I think it will make more of an impact in terms of availability of oil to the country and internationally, but for us, I don't see it being that big of a deal."