National environmental groups responded to the news with despair, both for the communities along the pipeline route as well as for what the moment spells for the priorities of American politicians and their approval of the northern half.

“Expediting KXL south was not the mark of a president who really ‘gets’ climate change,” said leading climate activist and founder of 350.org Bill McKibben, who later tweeted:

“Tar sands is more corrosive, more toxic, and more difficult to clean up than conventional crude. Coupled with lax oversight and TransCanada’s dismal safety record, this pipeline spells bad news for farmers and families whose land, health, and safety were forfeited so that oil companies can reach export markets with their deadly product,” said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune in a statement.

“We hope from this point on that unity is the clarion call for the climate movement,” lamented Juan Parras, founder of TEJAS.

“Environmental Justice communities, private property owners, residents living in proximity to the pipeline, and all those up and downstream – we’re are all affected here in the same struggle: to permanently stop the most ecologically devastating mining operations in the world and address the ongoing injustices of petrochemical refining,” he added.

Speaking with residents along the pipeline route, Al Jazeera produced this report on the impact of the southern leg:

Activists posted video of this solidarity protest in Maine:

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