Amid the skyrocketing US gas prices, President Obama is paying a visit to Cushing, Oklahoma which is home to America’s largest oil storage hub, to announce his new energy policy and to accelerate the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Despite the heavy protests for the project that caused widespread outrage across the country due to environmental concerns, TransCanada is moving forward with plans to build the southern portion of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
According to The Huffington Post, Obama’s plan to “fast-track” the permit for the southern half of the pipeline has not been confirmed by Obama’s senior administration officials.
The proposed pipeline will go from Crushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico to hopefully ease the price of the gas prices that have been hovering at approximately $4 per gallon.
TransCanada has released a statement saying"the President has previously voiced his support for the Gulf Coast Project and we agree as it will relieve the bottleneck in Cushing and allow American producers to transport their oil to the Gulf Coast to meet refinery demand.”
The company added that “along with relieving the bottleneck, refiners will have access to cheaper Canadian oil which should put downward pressure on US gas prices. The Gulf Coast Project also supports US energy independence by allowing Texas refineries to use American and Canadian crude oil instead of higher priced conflict oil from the Middle East and Venezuela."
The original plan for the Keystone XL pipeline was to go from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.
In January the Obama administration denied a permit for the pipeline and Obama explained that "the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline's impact." But Obama emphasized his decision still allowed applications for similar projects.
The White House has applauded TransCanada’s choice to create the Oklahoma piece of the pipeline.
"As the president made clear in January, we support the company's interest in proceeding with this project, which will help address the bottleneck of oil in Cushing that has resulted in large part from increased domestic oil production, currently at an eight year high," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
Even though Obama’s visit has caused environmentalist to go crazy, many Americans argue the pipe venture will create much needed jobs.
According to TransCanada,the pipeline would create approximately 4,000 jobs and cost $2.3 billion. The company anticipates having the southern portion of the development up and running by 2013.
Obama’s apparent flip-flop on the notorious pipeline is seen as a political move to assure him a seat in the White House for another four years.
In an interview with KJRH, Congressman John Sullivan, Chairman of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, agrees.
“President Obama claiming credit for speeding up the Keystone pipeline is like Al Gore saying he invented the Internet– it is claiming credit where credit isn't due. This is clearly an attempt to deflect attention from $4 gas and his failed energy policies, and Oklahomans won't buy it. The southern portion of Keystone XL doesn’t cross international lines and doesn’t need presidential approval. In fact, this administration has done everything in their power to delay the Keystone process – just last week the President personally lobbied members of Congress to vote against it,” Sullivan stated.
“Simply put, the southern portion of keystone – from Cushing, OK to the Gulf Coast – is being built in spite of the Obama Administration, not because of them. This portion of the pipeline does require numerous permits, but those come from state authorities, army corps of engineers and fish and wildlife services, not the president,” he concluded
According to ABC News, White House officials are optimistic this trip will undo the political destruction done to Obama by his initial obstruction of the larger project.
The Obama administration has been on guard regarding energy issues. Republicans believe that the administration just watching from the sidelines is only slowing down the economic recovery and undermining consumer confidence.
Oklahoma is one stop of a four-state tour which Obama plans to announce what he describes as an “all of the above” approach to energy.
According to ABC News, in December of last year House Republicans introduced a bill extending the payroll tax cut, giving the president two months to publicly make a choice on whether the pipeline should be built. In January, Obama rejected the notion, but not without Republicans grabbing the opportunity to claim the president was putting the environment before American jobs.