Obama touts faster southern Keystone; GOP calls it a political ploy

President Obama on Thursday unveiled new a permitting process he said would speed up the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline’s southern leg as he sought to tamp down GOP attacks amid rising gasoline prices.

In the pipeline hub of Cushing, Okla., where the southern part of Keystone XL would start, Obama said he issued an executive order outlining new processes for expediting pipelines, roads, transmission lines and other projects. With the order he also issued a memo directing U.S. agencies to speed up approval of federal permits for the southern leg from Cushing to the Gulf Coast refineries.

“I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles and make this project a priority,” Obama said.

Calgary, Canada-based TransCanada Corp. seeks to build the southern leg while it reapplies for a presidential permit for the border-crossing northern portion that would bring oil-sands crude from Alberta. The company split the project in two after the Obama administration rejected a cross-border permit in January.

TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard said in an email the president’s action “is a step forward in allowing us to construct the Gulf Coast Project.” Even with Obama’s executive order, he said TransCanada expects the southern segment to come online by mid- to late 2013, similar to the company’s original timeline.

But the southern portion wouldn’t need the presidential cross-border permit. TransCanada said it would need to obtain federal Army Corps of Engineers permits for crossing bodies of water.

In Washington, Republicans noted that presidential permit approval wasn’t needed for the southern leg in calling Obama’s Cushing speech a political ploy meant to take credit for a pipeline segment he doesn’t control. They argue he’s blocking the pipeline segment that actually would bring 700,000 barrels a day from Canada and 100,000 or more barrels from North Dakota to the Gulf.

“Somehow he calls that expediting energy production in this country,” said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., noted that TransCanada planned to build the southern part anyway if the cross-border permit was rejected. “The fact that the president says, ‘I approve,’ he had nothing to approve,” he said in an interview.

White House spokesman Jay Carney responded that Republicans were trying “to find some other reason to criticize [Obama].” Carney said he believed Obama’s executive order “will have an impact” by reducing bureaucratic red tape with the non-presidential federal permits.

The White House also notes the southern segment would help relieve Cushing’s pipeline bottleneck that has created a supply glut and caused Midwestern crude to trade at a discount.

Republicans have bashed Obama for his administration’s rejection of the cross-border permit, especially as gasoline prices have risen. Obama has responded that no “short-term silver bullets” exist for gasoline prices and has called for and “all-of-the-above” strategy.

Analysts say there’s little lawmakers and presidents of either party can do in the short term to control prices at the pump, which are set mostly by crude-oil prices on global markets.

Republicans vowed to keep pushing legislation to authorize the pipeline, circumventing any presidential role. They touted a new Gallup poll showing 57 percent of Americans support building Keystone XL, underscoring the political pressure on Obama.

But many environmentalists, who make up a big Democratic Party voting group, oppose building the pipeline at all, saying it poses a pollution threat and carries a dirty form of oil.

“This wrongheaded decision will do nothing to lower gas prices and only helps the richest oil companies get richer,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.

Obama and the State Department, which handles the presidential cross-border permit under a 2004 executive order, insist the cross-border permit wasn’t rejected on the merits. Obama blamed the GOP for inserting a Feb. 21 decision deadline into the December payroll-tax law, not allowing enough time to study new routes avoiding environmentally sensitive areas of Nebraska.

While Republicans claim their measure carved out a separate timetable allowing Nebraska to find its new route, Democrats say it’s wrong to issue a permit before the route is known.

“The northern portion of it we’re going to have to review properly to make sure that the health and the safety of the American people are protected,” said Obama, who has welcomed TransCanada to reapply for the cross-border permit

TransCanada’s Howard said Nebraska still hasn’t finalized the new route and will have to take legislative and administrative actions to do so. He said the new route “does avoid the Nebraska Sandhills,” the fragile area in the original route and close to the water table of an giant aquifer.

Republicans said they planned to insert legislation from Terry that approves Keystone XL into transportation legislation in the House. The House already has passed a series of provisions tying expanded oil and gas production and Keystone XL’s approval to a transportation bill, but that legislation is dead on arrival in the Senate and Republicans have decided to rework it.

A bipartisan transportation bill has already passed in the Senate. The body narrowly voted down an effort by Hoeven and other Republicans to amend that chamber’s legislation with Keystone XL language. But Republicans were enraged that Obama personally called Democratic senators to ask them to vote against it, saying his lobbying may have made the difference in the final vote.

Terry said in the Wednesday interview he was in talks with leadership to insert his Keystone XL language into the House GOP’s new transportation bill. Because Congress faces a March 31 deadline to pass a transportation bill into law, the House GOP is considering a three-month stopgap to provide time to rework the legislation.

The GOP could use the stopgap for the Keystone legislation, Terry said.

“We plan on sending it back to the Senate with Keystone in it,” Terry said.

30 Comments

  1. bigjohn431

    obama was,is now and always will be a lying butt head,just like the rest of his liberal dem friends.

    #1
  2. SPENDMONEY

    Terry said in the Wednesday interview he was in talks with leadership to insert his (Keystone XL language) into the House GOP’s new transportation bill.
    ……………..
    Republican(Keystone XL language) = permanent tax break for the wealthy.
    …..
    but the Republicans are not playing politics with the pipeline. but the Republicans are not playing politics with the pipeline. but the Republicans are not playing politics with the pipeline.

    #2
  3. Jebby85

    Coming soon to a political debate near you -

    “I was against the pipeline before I was for it!”

    - Obama

    #3
  4. Jebby85

    “I was against the pipeline because it presented a major environmental hazard should it spring a leak.

    But then I saw this half running through that Texas state that I HATE so much and I said what the heck….APPROVED!”

    - Obama in Cushing Oklahoma

    #4
  5. The Czech Man

    This guy is the biggest joke I have ever seen, takes credit for something he has NO control over and sandbags every other part of the project where he does have control………..We are paying him a salary for the rest of his life for him going out and running a campaign fund raiser life style while we pay for his travels to do it. DOES HE EVER WORK? TALK, TALK, TALK

    #5
  6. disheveled1

    Political ploy?I’d buy that for a dollar.

    #6
  7. mark

    It was a done deal at the end of Bush’s presidency. With all the studies done and shovel ready to go. Obama has stalled and demanded more environmental study after study for over three years now. Now the two faced clown has the nerve to brag about how much he is doing to help the process along.

    #7
  8. PaleRider

    The man is grandstanding for his propaganda machine – he has not approved anything – nothing new here.

    #8
  9. JB

    Congress = Red Tape Investors.

    #9
  10. Jeff S

    Pot, meet kettle.

    BOTH parties are guilty of playing politics with this pipeline. One for the gain of of their sheeple base and lobbyists, and the other for the gain of their sheeple base and environmentalists.

    Neither side is right, and both sides are wrong for different reasons. What ever happened to doing the right thing for everyone, rather than trying to score political points?

    #10
  11. Captain Cook

    Owebummer needs to go away!

    #11
  12. Sean

    My first response was, “You gotta be kidding me.” But I remembered that I got tired of saying that about Peerless Leader a good two years ago. The sad thing is that some people will believe him and continue to worship him as their Messiah. No matter how old I get, I still shake my head at the mendacity of politicians and the absolute gullibility of liberal voters.

    #12
  13. msyellarose

    Oh please. Didn’t the GOP want the pipeline in the first place? Geez, you can’t have both ways.

    #13
  14. npk32

    And the GOP hasn’t been using it as a political ploy?

    #14
  15. 42

    Republicans “argue he is blocking the part of the pipeline that actually would bring 700,000 barrels a day of oil-sands crude from Canada into the U.S. and provide a path for 100,000 more barrels of North Dakotan crude to get to refineries on the Gulf Coast.” And the resulting refined oil would then go out onto the world oil market!

    What this country needs is an “all of the above” approach to energy, including increased oil production (which we’re already doing), nuclear, solar, wind, biomass AND energy conservation.

    #15
  16. akh

    Right…because the GOP would NEVER play politics would they?

    #16
  17. jimmy

    How much more damage can this one man do before the fools that voted him in realize that they need to keep the white folks working in order for them to get a goverment check.

    #17
  18. ClickClickBOOM

    It’s a good thing the Republicans never play politics. =/

    #18
  19. Thunderbolt

    I hope and pray that Obama gets soundly defeated come November. It’s sickening to listen to this lying piece of garbage and the puke he spews out every day. Just disgusting.

    #19
  20. OK

    And as you can see, the trailer park residents of the Houston area are infuriated.

    Thank you President Obama for presiding over the highest domestic oil production in American history. Thank you for encouraging children to go to college, despite continued yearning for stupidity from the GOP.

    #20
  21. starchamber

    Will Obama return to Kenya when he leaves the White House next year?

    #21
  22. Biggles

    The republicans never engage in political grandstanding, they engage in outright lies. 20,000 jobs? Try about 1,000 TEMPORARY jobs in reality. Bringing down the price of gasoline? Not one drop is to be sold in the USA, it’s all for export. The GOP is getting desperate.

    #22
  23. John Q. Public

    Is anyone falling for this guys bullcrap still?

    His plunging approval numbers forced him to do this latest smoke and mirrors trick. Where is the honest reporting on this fraud?

    #23
  24. Kurt

    So what? It’s not like the GOP isn’t using this as a political ploy. All they do is talk, talk, talk and do absolutely nothing but complain. That’s all they have been doing. One state even tried to approve the pipeline through some long shot procedural process. What is that? Is that not a political ploy? Since when does a govenor of a state have the ability to make international decisions? The President can yank you guys chains and have you barking over just about anything.

    #24
  25. Voter id, proof of citizenship and a twic card too boot is needed to vote otherwise Obama will be reelected. Bet ya 100.00 dollars. How many takers have i got???????????

    #25
  26. Bill in Houston

    There is a 1200 mile gap between the pipeline Obama wants to build and the actual source of the oil.

    This is a political stunt, and Obama should be ashamed. Of course the left never feels shame. The ends ALWAYS justify the means.

    #26
  27. tboyinhouston

    What the President has failed to realize in his vision of bringing both sides together is that the republicans never intended to work with him. They hate him with vile beliefs that he is a sunni or shia. Seriously, when over 50% of Mississippi thinks the President is a Muslim, one knows they didn’t get that idea all by themselves. The republicans have been sowing the seeds of lies for three years now. The republicans have no intention of working with the President and they will bring the country down if necessary for them to win. Look what they did to Clinton. How many years did Ken Starr investigate the clintons and all he came up with was a lie about oral sex. The republicans will stop at nothing to destroy. Shame!

    #27
  28. Ed

    Obama –phony as a 3 dollar bill–I do not believe a word comming out of his taco hole

    #28
  29. Mike

    This idiot is a real piece of work. He slams the door on the oil coming in from Canada. So Oklahoma and Texas agree to build the southern leg of the pipeline where no federal permits are required. Then he comes flying in at a cost to taxpayers of at least $70,000 an hour and announces all the work has done to expedite the construction. What a lying sack of dirt.
    And from some of the comments here there are apparently plenty of useful idiots who think he actually had something to do with the pipeline. tboy, clicker, and others: pull your head out of your rear end and look around.

    #29
  30. Powdermonkey

    tboy – the exact same happened when Bush was in office. How many libs still think the fake ANG documents on Bush, presented by CBS are still authentic? As a conservative, I don’t want to work with liberals. That means I have to compromise some of my core beliefs which I’m not willing to do.
    The fact is both sides play politics with everything. It’s the way the game is played.

    #30