Drillers, Environmentalists Not Buying Obama’s Energy Pitch
Touting an “all-of-the-above” energy policy, President Barack Obama traveled to this oil town on Thursday to show his support for the southern leg of the controversial Keystone oil pipeline proposed from Canada to refineries along the Gulf Coast.
“I am directing my administration to cut through red tape, break through bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority,” he said with dozens of pipes stacked up behind him at a yard used by TransCanada, the company proposing the Keystone pipeline.
But neither the oil industry, which insists Obama could send stronger market signals to lower prices at the pump, nor environmentalists, who cite the climate impact of fossil fuels, were on board.
“A true all-of-the-above energy strategy would include greater access to areas that are currently off limits, a regulatory and permitting process that supported reasonable timelines for development, and immediate approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to bring more Canadian oil to U.S. refineries,” Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said in a statement. “This would send a positive signal to the market and could help put downward pressure on prices.”
Obama in his speech noted that domestic production has risen during his term. “America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years,” he said. “Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for oil and gas exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating oil rigs to a record high.”
The southern leg would help drain a glut of crude in Cushing, the storage hub for U.S. crude oil traded on the futures market, easing deliveries to refineries along the Gulf Coast.
As for the overall Keystone project, Obama said the delay in the northern leg came about because Nebraska lawmakers — both Republicans and Democrats — raised concerns about the potential impact on the state’s water supply if a spill happened. “So to be extra careful that the construction of the pipeline in an area like that wouldn’t put the health and safety of the American people at risk, our experts said that we needed a certain amount of time to review the project,” he said Thursday.