Iowa Public Television


President Obama Promotes Keystone XL's Southern Route

posted on March 23, 2012

President Barack Obama: “Anybody who suggests that somehow we’re suppressing domestic oil production isn’t paying attention.  They are not paying attention.”

Promoting everything from domestic crude oil production to solar power, President Barack Obama spent the past week crisscrossing the country in a series of energy-themed tours and public speeches. Standing at the epicenter of American oil – Cushing, Oklahoma– Obama pledged full support for the southern portion of the Keystone oil pipeline.

President Barack Obama: “Today, I'm directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.”

Obama’s support of swift government action on the Keystone XL pipeline is constrained to the route’s southernmost portion running from centralOklahomato oil refineries on theGulfCoast.  The Administration still argues the northern portion, fromCanadathrough the Dakotas and other Midwestern states, will receive fair bureaucratic attention once an alternate route throughNebraskais chosen.  In 2011, the Keystone XL hit its largest production snag -- not only inWashington-- but in theCornhuskerStatewhere bipartisan concerns over pumping oil near the Ogallala aquifer raised concern from rural and urban citizens.

But there is growing consensus inNebraskaandWashingtonthat the Keystone XL will find an alternate, environmentally-friendly route AND receive eventual government approval.   Pipeline owner TransCanada will begin construction on the southern route in June but the president’s support was not surprising considering the southern portion of the Keystone was never as controversial as its northern section.  

Republicans blasted the President’s embrace this week as little more than a publicity stunt.

A spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee said:

“The American people can't afford more half-measures on energy from the president. No matter what he says, the reality is he killed the Keystone pipeline and the energy production and 20,000 jobs that went with it.”

Environmentalists, long critical of oil collected from Canadian tar sands, piled on the president – arguing the petroleum industry “has a history of oil spills.”

But with gasoline prices continuing to rise, the Obama Administration has launched an election-year assault on energy in the public sphere.

President Barack Obama: “Since I took office, our dependence on foreign oil has gone down every single year.  Last year, we imported 1 million fewer barrels per day than the year before.  Think about that.  America, at a time when we’re growing, is actually importing less oil from overseas because we’re using it smarter and more efficiently. Americais now importing less than half the oil we use for the first time in more than a decade. So the key is to keep it going."

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