TransCanada, State Leaders React To Obama's Cushing Visit

Thursday, March 22nd 2012, 6:00 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

While President Obama promised to the expedite the building of the pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf of Mexico, the group doing the work says that won't speed up construction or completion of the project.

TransCanada says they plan to begin building the pipeline in June and expected to have the necessary permits by that time even without the efforts of the President.

President Obama in Cushing Thursday, promised to fast-track any permits necessary for the construction of the pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf of Mexico.

In a memo sent out Thursday from the President to Heads of Executive Departments and agencies called for an "Expedited Review of Pipeline Projects from Cushing to Port Arthur."

"Today, I'm directing my administration to cut through the red tape," President Obama said Thursday morning in Cushing.

But TransCanada Vice President Robert Jones told reporters after the President's speech their timeline remains the same.

"What I think I heard today was the administration will continue with their cooperation and that schedule we have to start full construction by midyear remains the secure."

Republicans point out that since this is a domestic project the President's approval is not required.

And while federal agencies such as the Army Corps of Engineers and the Interior Department play a role in the approval process, states have a more direct say in approving the route.

Environmentalists are critical of the President fast-tracking permits, saying they don't want regulators to cut corners on safety reviews especially in an industry that has a history of spills.

Some state leaders also lashed out at President Obama following his speech in Cushing. Senator Jim Inhofe and Governor Mary Fallin are both criticizing the President, saying he's trying to take credit for success in the oil and gas industry that they say he had nothing to with.

In announcing plans to speed up work on the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama explained politics kept him from approving the entire project. President Obama says his administration had legitimate environmental concerns about a portion of the pipeline.

Still, Senator Inhofe calls the trip "calculated" and did some calculating of his own. The senator says the President's speech cost taxpayers one million dollars per minute. The speech lasted 11 minutes.