Obama to fast-track portion of Keystone pipeline

In this Sept. 15, 2005 file photo, the marker that welcomes commuters to Cushing, Okla. is seen. File,AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Matt Strasen

BOULDER CITY, Nev. - President Barack Obama plans to direct federal agencies to fast-track an oil pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas, backing a segment of the larger Keystone XL project that he rejected earlier this year.

The 485-mile line from Cushing, Okla., to refineries on Texas' Gulf coast would remove a critical bottleneck in the country's oil transportation system.

The directive, to be announced Thursday, would also apply to other pipelines that alleviate choke points.

For Obama, the announcement provides an answer to Republicans who say his energy policies, including the rejection of the larger Canada-Texas pipeline, have led to high gas prices, and destroyed jobs.

Obama lobbied Democrats earlier this month to block a GOP bid to force approval of the Keystone project, which environmentalists have rallied against.

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