The administration's executive order, which gives the go-ahead for the Dakota Access pipeline, reverses the Obama administration's position that the pipelines posed a potential hazard to the major underground aquifer that serves eight states, from Wyoming and Nebraska to Texas and New Mexico.
"Keystone XL is integral to enhancing economic opportunity in Southeast Texas," said Bart Owens, business development manager and projects coordinator for GT Logistics, a multipurpose terminal in Port Arthur, which is in sight of Motiva Port Arthur's and Valero Energy Corp.'s refineries.
"It's an opportunity for all the terminals here," Owens said. "As the (crude) price comes back up, we'll be busier. A lot of projects are on the verge of happening because companies were waiting for the election to be over."
Because the Keystone XL route crosses from Canada into the United States, builder TransCanada needed State Department approval to proceed.
The lower link in the Keystone connection was completed three years ago, when crude began to pour in from the Midwest oil hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, to the Sunoco Logistics terminal in Nederland.
Sunoco has about 24 million barrels of storage and is building more but declined comment on the potential XL impact.
The pipeline's capacity has been estimated at 700,000 barrels per day. Keystone XL could bring another 140,000 barrels, TransCanada have said.
Since the XL portion was stalled, other terminals sprang up, like GT Logistics and Jefferson Energy Companies, to bring in crude by train from producing fields that lacked adequate pipeline access.
Jefferson leases property on the Port of Beaumont's Orange County bank to offload oil from 120-car tanker trains to high-capacity tanks, from which it is pumped aboard barges for delivery to customers locally or via the Intracoastal Waterway.
A spokesman for Jefferson had no comment Tuesday.
Barges filled with oil are a worry for people who want to ensure protection for sensitive places like Bessie Heights Marsh.
"Everything we've been fighting is going forward," he said. "We're in trouble when you want to do away with regulations that have cleaned up the environment in the early days."
Harrel, a retired biology professor from Lamar University, led the research 50 years ago into what then was the heavily polluted Neches River.