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Some Texans Puzzled By Keystone XL Pipeline Rejection


The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline has prompted some head scratching in Texas. From member station KUT in Austin, Mose Buchele explains why.

MOSE BUCHELE, BYLINE: In the fight against the Keystone XL, Julia Trigg was one of the most visible faces in Texas. She sued TransCanada when it used eminent domain to run pipeline through her Northeast Texas farm. So you'd expect her to be happy about the news today, but it's more complicated than that. Julia Trigg lost her fight long before today.

JULIA TRIGG: Technically, from my vernacular, the northern leg of the Keystone XL today was rejected because the southern leg of the Keystone XL has been in operation since January of 2014.

BUCHELE: That's when TransCanada started running oil from Cushing, Okla., to the Texas Gulf Coast. That project - what would've been the southern leg of Keystone XL - was fast-tracked by the Obama administration at the urging of industry back in 2012. That's worked out well for Texas, says Thure Cannon. He's the head of the state's Pipeline Association.

THURE CANNON: The Golf Coast leg of the pipeline is beneficial because that remove - it helps remove the bottleneck that's already in Cushing, and that's good for Texas producers.

BUCHELE: The fact is, there's plenty of oil running through the southern half of the pipeline that was supposed to stretch all the way from Canada. That's probably why many oil analysts found themselves agreeing with the president when he said the Keystone decision was not make or break for the industry.

KEN MEDLOCK: Yeah, I agree (laughter), in a nutshell.

BUCHELE: Ken Medlock is the director of the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University in Houston.

MEDLOCK: Those refineries will still run. It's just an issue of what's the crude stream they're going to be pushing through. And it's going to be, you know, a heavy variety. It's just going to be from a different location.

BUCHELE: He expects more tar sands crude to continue finding its way to the Texas Gulf. Medlock says just wait for global oil prices to start creeping up again. For NPR News, I'm Mose Buchele in Austin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mose Buchele is the Austin-based broadcast reporter for KUT's NPR partnership StateImpact Texas . He has been on staff at KUT 90.5 since 2009, covering local and state issues. Mose has also worked as a blogger on politics and an education reporter at his hometown paper in Western Massachusetts. He holds masters degrees in Latin American Studies and Journalism from UT Austin.