Just a few hours after President Barack Obama announced he was rejecting the plans for the Keystone XL pipeline, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford had already begun criticizing the decision.
Lankford took over for the seat of Tom Coburn in 2014 after Coburn stepped down out of principle and a long battle with prostate cancer. Lankford is facing re-election in 2016.
“It has to be one of the most insulting things I've heard him say about another country,” Lankford said about the president’s previous statement that the Canadian oil that would have flowed through the pipeline was “dirty energy”.
“For him to say we're not going buy oil from you because you're an unstable part of the world. It was just bizarre.”
Lankford, a member of the U.S. Senate appropriations subcommittee on commerce, justice and science, said the rejection was purely political and Obama had “stalled” for seven years on making a decision.
“He wants to be seen as a global leader on climate change and all the while Americans lose all the pipeline jobs, lose all the possibilities of oil from Canada, rather than the Middle East and once again it slows down the economic activity in the United States,” He said.
Estimates say the pipeline would've created less than 100 long-term jobs and U.S. State Department reports suggest it would've had limited impact on the environment.
But it wasn't the only oil issue on the senator's mind. The town of Cushing, a major oil hub for the nation, was recently upgraded as a national security threat, over fears earthquakes and terrorism may pose a danger to vital resources.
“We're engaging more and more with areas like Cushing. I just went and visited Cushing and spent a full day there just last month. We talked about cyber security, terrorism, talking about providing security and where we are in that location because it's a critical part of our infrastructure as a nation,” Lankford said.
The senator also touched on what he called government overreach on environmental protection. When asked about the President’s Clean Power Plant program, Lankford called the Obama’s with-us-or-against-us approach “silly.”
Lankford also balked at the new Waters of the United States Act (WOTUS). The act would give the federal government jurisdiction over bodies of water that lead to navigable waterways. It would also force many farmers, businesses and homeowners to apply for federal permits to use said waterways.
Lankford voted in favor of the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, a Republican sponsored measure that would force the Environmental Protection Agency to better define “navigable waters” under WOTUS.
“This is a very different day. We cannot have the federal government picking and choosing who you are going to give permits based on the preferences of the president. This is a country where private property does matter,” He said.
News 9's Grant Hermes will have more on his interview with Senator Lankford this weekend.