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Reports: Obama Will Call For Southern Portion Of XL Pipeline To Be Expedited

Quoting "a White House official," CNN and USA Today are reporting that in a speech tomorrow President Obama will push for fast-tracking the construction of the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline.

USA Today reports:

"While the State Department blocked permitting of the entire project earlier this year, the White House late last month expressed support of TransCanada's plan to move forward with building the southern segment from Cushing, Okla., to the Gulf of Mexico.

"While visiting Cushing on Thursday as part of a trip to promote his energy policy, Obama will reiterate the administration stance that expediting construction of the southern segment will help relieve a 'bottleneck of oil' and bring domestic resources to market, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the president has yet to speak on the matter."

Back in February, TransCanada said it would begin work on the Oklahoma-to-Texas portion of the proposed 1,700 mile pipeline. TransCanada said that portion could be complete in mid to late 2013.

CNN reportsthat Obama's support of the pipeline will result in opposition from environmentalists, but it could also help blunt criticism from Republicans that the president isn't doing enough to relieve Americans from high gas prices.

What's clear is that Obama's announcement won't be met with cheers from oil executives. The heads of four big energy companies — Continental Resources, Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy and Sandridge Energy — said as much in an an open letter to the president published in The Oklahoman.

Their message to the president: Approve the entire XL pipeline, now. They write:

"Approval of the entire Keystone XL pipeline should happen now — not after the election. Yes, we are pleased TransCanada decided to build a critical section of the project from Cushing to the Gulf Coast. We note that this section doesn't require State Department approval. However, America's greatest benefit will come when we can transport oil from our best energy partner, Canada, and oil-rich North Dakotaand Montana."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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