“Right now, a company called TransCanada has applied to build a new pipeline to speed more oil from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down on the Gulf Coast,” Obama said during a whistle-stop energy speech at a private industrial site near the Oklahoma oil-patch town of Cushing.
“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,” he said to a round of applause.
The administration has twice refused to grant Calgary, Alberta-based TransCanada Corp. a presidential permit that would allow the Keystone XL pipeline to cross the U.S.-Canadian border.
The line would transport tar sands slurry from a giant minefield on the Athabasca River in the border province of Alberta through some 1,700 miles of Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, in order to reach refineries in the tax-exempt foreign trade zone on the Gulf of Mexico.
Obama’s argument was not against the tar sands or pipeline, but rather against congressional efforts to shorten the administration’s period for consideration of the project’s “national interest.”
Republicans in Congress have twice failed to pass bills forcing the administration to accept the project without further adieu. Joined by congressional Democrats, Obama has so far succeeded in putting off the permit decision until after this year’s November presidential elections.