Monday, March 26, 2012

President & Republicans Spar Over Keystone XL & Energy Issues

Mar 22: The President delivered energy speeches in four different parts of the country: Copper Mountain Solar Project in Boulder City, Nevada; Maljamar, New Mexico; Cushing Pipe Yard in Cushing, Oklahoma; and finally at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Perhaps the focal point of the energy tour was the Cushing, OK stop as it is a key link in the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline project. While many have proclaimed that the President and his Administration are opposed to the pipeline, with encouragement from the White House, TransCanada, the project developer continues to say that it is, "fully committed to the Keystone XL project and expects to place the pipeline in service by early 2015." Nearly a month ago on February 27, the White House said, "The President welcomes today's news that TransCanada plans to build a pipeline to bring crude oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, to the Gulf of Mexico."
    The Cushing to the Gulf segment represents about a quarter of the total pipeline. The 1,661-mile, 36-inch crude oil pipeline that would begin at Hardisty, Alberta and extend southeast through Saskatchewan, Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. It would incorporate a portion of the Keystone Pipeline (Phase II) through Nebraska and Kansas to serve markets at Cushing, before continuing through Oklahoma to a delivery point near existing terminals in Nederland, Texas to serve the Port Arthur, Texas marketplace.
    Also, in February the White House said regarding the Cushing to the Gulf segment, "We look forward to working with TransCanada to ensure that it is built in a safe, responsible and timely manner, and we commit to take every step possible to expedite the necessary Federal permits." Additionally, the White House said about the rest of the pipeline, "Separately, TransCanada gave the State Department advance notice of its intention to submit a new application for the cross-border segment of the Keystone XL pipeline, from Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, once a route through Nebraska has been identified."
    At the Cushing stop the President said, "I've come to Cushing, an oil town -- because producing more oil and gas here at home has been, and will continue to be, a critical part of an all-of-the-above energy strategy. Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. That's important to know. Over the last three years, I've directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil 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 rigs to a record high. We've added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.

    "So we are drilling all over the place -- right now. That's not the challenge. That's not the problem. In fact, the problem in a place like Cushing is that we're actually producing so much oil and gas in places like North Dakota and Colorado that we don't have enough pipeline capacity to transport all of it to where it needs to go -- both to refineries, and then, eventually, all across the country and around the world.  There's a bottleneck right here because we can't get enough of the oil to our refineries fast enough. And if we could, then we would be able to increase our oil supplies at a time when they're needed as much as possible.

    "Now, 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. And 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.

    "Now, you wouldn't know all this from listening to the television set. This whole issue of the Keystone pipeline had generated, obviously, a lot of controversy and a lot of politics. And that's because the original route from Canada into the United States was planned through an area in Nebraska that supplies some drinking water for nearly 2 million Americans, and irrigation for a good portion of America's croplands. And Nebraskans of all political stripes -- including the Republican governor there -- raised some concerns about the safety and wisdom of that route. 

    "So to be extra careful that the construction of the pipeline in an area like that wouldn't put the health and the safety of the American people at risk, our experts said that we needed a certain amount of time to review the project. Unfortunately, Congress decided they wanted their own timeline -- not the company, not the experts, but members of Congress who decided this might be a fun political issue, decided to try to intervene and make it impossible for us to make an informed decision.

    So what we've said to the company is, we're happy to review future permits. And today, we're making this new pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf a priority. So the southern leg of it we're making a priority, and we're going to go ahead and get that done. The northern portion of it we're going to have to review properly to make sure that the health and safety of the American people are protected. That's common sense. . ."

    The President went on to discuss the fact that the U.S. uses  20 percent of the world's oil; we only produce 2 percent of the world's oil; and, therefore, drilling alone is not the answer to long term energy problems. He said we must "continually improve the utilization of renewable energy sources, new clean energy sources, and how do we become more efficient in our use of energy. . . After 30 years of not doing anything, we finally increased fuel-efficiency standards on cars and trucks, and Americans are now designing and building cars that will go nearly twice as far on the same gallon of gas by the middle of the next decade.  And that's going to save the average family $8,000 over the life of a car. . .

    "We've got to use our innovation. We've got to use our brain power. We've got to use our creativity. We've got to have a vision for the future, not just constantly looking backwards at the past. That's where we need to go. That's the future we can build. . . And that's how we have to think about energy. And if we do, not only are we going to see jobs and growth and success here in Cushing, Oklahoma, we're going to see it all across the country."

    As the President spoke in Cushing, the Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Pubic Works (EPW) Committee, James Inhofe (R-OK) grilled the EPA Administrator on the FY 2013 budget and said, "I think President Obama -- the same President who told us that fossil fuels will bring the world to an end -- is in Oklahoma today standing in an oil field touting oil and gas production. The only explanation is that he is running scared from his anti-fossil fuel agenda that he has asked you to implement for the past three years. This agenda is one specifically designed to increase the price of gas at the pump and energy in our homes. Remember, President Obama himself said that under his plan, energy costs would 'necessarily skyrocket.' But this is not a record that gets you reelected. . .

    "But even as President Obama stands in an Oklahoma oil field, pretending to support this pipeline to save his job, he continues full force with his efforts to regulate fossil fuels out of existence, spearheaded in large part by your agency. His EPA is moving forward with an unprecedented barrage of expensive rules, from greenhouse gas regulations, to hydraulic fracturing, to clean water regulations, with the express purpose of eliminating fossil fuels. . ."

    Similarly, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee, was joined by Senators John Hoeven (R-ND); Richard Lugar (R-IN); John Cornyn (R-TX); Roy Blunt (R-MO); David Vitter (R-LA); and Representative Lee Terry (R-Nebraska), in criticizing President Obama's visit to Cushing, saying "it highlights his continued obstruction of the Keystone XL pipeline project while the economy languishes and gas prices continue to rise for American consumers."
    Senator Murkowski said, "After rejecting the larger Keystone project, the president is claiming credit for a section that he has no authority over -- and that would proceed with or without his involvement. If you hear a lot of one-hand clapping from us in the wake of the president's speech, it's because there's nothing to actually commend him for. I'm hoping the president realizes that he has to do far more than give speeches if he wants to have an impact on fuel prices. He's embraced our 'all of the above' policy, now he needs to own it. If he followed our plan to produce another 3 million barrels per day – from ANWR, from offshore, and from the Rocky Mountain West -- we could cut out OPEC imports almost entirely, greatly strengthen our economy, and reduce oil market volatility. Think about that. It's within our grasp. It's worth doing. And it's time for the president to work with us to make it happen."
    A staff posting on House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) website called the President's energy tour -- the "tour de farce" and said, "Republicans are questioning his claim of 'expediting' a sliver of the Keystone XL pipeline that doesn't even require his approval while blocking a 1,179-mile stretch that would bring much-needed jobs and energy to the United States." Speaker Boehner sadi, "This is what I'm calling the Obama energy gap. Up here in Canada and in North Dakota, we've got all this oil. And the President is down here in Oklahoma taking credit for the pipeline that's going to go through the normal process; it's already gotten its approval. And this idea that the president is going to expedite this will have no impact on the construction of this pipeline."

Access the President's Cushing speech (click here). Access the President's New Mexico speech (click here). Access the President's Nevada speech (click here). Access the President's Ohio speech (click here). Access a release from Senator Inhofe (click here). Access a release and video from Senator Murkowski (click here). Access a posting, statement and video from Speaker Boehner (click here). Access the TransCanada Keystone XL project website for additional information (click here). Access complete details and background from the DOS Keystone XL Pipeline Project website (click here). [#Energy/Pipeline, #Energy/KXL, #Energy/OilSands, #Energy/TarSands]
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