The entire Keystone XL project would have traveled through six states -- Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas -- before reaching refineries in Houston and Port Arthur.
The full project was denied a presidential permit after an extensive review required by the U.S. State Department.
President Barack Obama then encouraged TransCanada to move ahead with the segment that will run from a refinery in Cushing, Okla., to Texas after he rejected the broader plan, saying the pipeline needed to be rerouted around Nebraska's sensitive Sand Hills region. For that project, TransCanada needs presidential approval because it crosses an international border.
The shorter portion only requires permits from state and federal agencies.
Now that the company has received a permit from the Fort Worth Army Corps district, along with previously received permits from the Galveston and Tulsa, Okla., districts, it can start construction in the near future, according to a news release.
"Receiving this final, key Army Corps permit for the Gulf Coast project is very positive news," Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer, said in the release. "TransCanada is now poised to put approximately 4,000 Americans to work constructing the $2.3 billion pipeline that will be built in three distinct 'spreads' or sections. The Gulf Coast project will contribute millions in property taxes to counties in Oklahoma and Texas, money that can be used to build roads, schools and hospitals."
The pipeline would be just east of Winnsboro, Hawkins, Winona, New Chapel Hill, Arp, New Summerfield, Reklaw and Wells.
Proponents said the project will increase the nation's oil capacity while reducing its dependence on foreign oil in hostile nations. Opponents question the pipeline's safety and construction standards and the Canadian-based company's tactics to acquire right-of-way from residents.
Smith County Judge Joel Baker said he's in favor of furthering oil and gas development through the area as long as all regulations are followed.
"I'm all for the oil and gas business and its affect in the United States," he said. "I think it means a lot for our economy bringing jobs to the area."
TransCanada spokesman David Dodson said during the duration of construction, there will be construction jobs that will last 18 months or "however long construction takes place" in a specific area.
Those people will be buying locally, providing an economic boost, and the project long-term will be a tax-paying entity in those counties, he said.
According to a news release, U.S. crude oil will be transported through the pipeline to meet refinery demand in Texas, and refineries on the Gulf Coast will have access to lower-cost domestic production without paying a premium to foreign oil producers.
"TransCanada has an industry-leading safety record and that is something we take great pride in," he said in the release. "People expect their energy to be delivered safely and reliably -- on this point there can be no compromise. As an industry, we need to have the best and most modern policies, procedures and equipment in place to prevent and respond to incidents."
For instance, TransCanada has state-of-the-art leak detection systems, elevated safety features and specialized staff training to help ensure that the pipeline system is safe, according to a news release. Among other things, that includes around-the-clock monitoring of pipeline operations, a greater number of data sensors and emergency shut-off valves than in older systems, and information updates every five seconds on pipeline operating conditions, and the ability to shut down the pipeline and isolate affected sections within minutes.
The issue took on political importance when Republicans forced a deadline on Obama to rule on the broader 1,179-mile Keystone XL pipeline. Obama, saying it required further review and should be rerouted to avoid an area where a vital aquifer flows close to the surface, rejected the plan. TransCanada has since resubmitted a new plan to the U.S. State Department.
"The Gulf Coast project and the entire Keystone system will further help the U.S. achieve true energy security," Girling said in a news release. "I continue to believe Americans would prefer to consume their crude oil from domestic producers and from Canada rather than higher-priced oil from countries that do not share American values."