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Obama said ready to push partial Keystone XL approval

Obama will be in Cushing, Okla., the start point of the pipeline’s southern half on Thursday

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The Keystone XL project will extend TransCanada Corp.‘s Keystone pipeline that carries oil from northern Alberta to refineries in the United States. (TransCanada Corp.)

U.S. President Barack Obama is reportedly set to announce in Oklahoma this week that he’s expediting the permit process for the southern half of TransCanada’s controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

Citing a senior administration source, CNN reported on Tuesday that Obama wants to slash several months off a permit approval process that can ordinarily stretch on for as long as a year.

The administration wants to speed things up to deal with a glut of oil in Cushing, Oklahoma, where crude from the Midwest runs into a logjam on its way to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.

Obama will make the announcement Thursday at a storage yard in Cushing, the starting point of the pipeline’s southern half.

Pipes that will be used to build Keystone XL to the Gulf Coast are being housed at the facility.

Gas prices rising

The announcement comes as prices at the pump continue to soar. Republicans are blaming Obama’s energy policies for rising gas prices and continue to attack him for rejecting Keystone XL in January.

The U.S. average price for a gallon of gasoline rose for the 11th straight day on Tuesday to $3.85 US, and soared to $4 a gallon in some states. That would amount to a little over a dollar a litre in Canada.

Millions of barrels of unrefined crude are sitting in storage facilities in North Dakota, in particular, but there’s a lack of pipeline capacity to carry it to the Gulf Coast and a limited number of rail cars that can transport the oil south. The state is currently in the throes of a major oil boom thanks to the discovery of the so-called Bakken Shale.

Obama’s recent praise of Calgary-based TransCanada’s decision to proceed with the construction of the southern segment of the pipeline signalled a shift in attitude from the White House after it rejected the pipeline outright in January.

The entire length of the proposed, $7.6 billion pipeline would stretch from Alberta’s oilsands through six U.S. states to the Gulf Coast.

No decision from State Dept.

The U.S. State Department has yet to make a decision on the pipeline, saying it needs more time to conduct a thorough environmental review of a new route around an environmentally sensitive aquifer in Nebraska. State department officials are assessing the project because it crosses an international border.

In November, under mounting pressure from environmentalists, the State Department deferred making a decision on Keystone until after this year’s presidential election, citing concerns about the risks posed to the aquifer.

Pipeline proponents cried foul, accusing Obama of making a cynical political move aimed at pacifying the environmentalists of his base and improving his chances of re-election.

Republicans then held the administration’s feet to the fire, successfully inserting pipeline provisions into payroll tax cut legislation in late December.

Within a month, facing a mid-February deadline imposed by that measure, Obama nixed TransCanada’s existing permit outright, saying there wasn’t enough time to thoroughly review a new route before giving it the green light.

But Obama also assured Prime Minister Stephen Harper that the decision did not reflect on the pipeline’s merits, but was merely necessitated by Republican pressure tactics. He welcomed TransCanada to propose another route.

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Obama lobby of Senate leads to defeat of Keystone pipeline

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by Audrey Hudson

The Senate failed Thursday to overturn the White House’s decision to block construction of the Keystone XL pipeline due in part to a last-minute lobbying effort by President Barack Obama.

Obama’s efforts to head off defiance of his order through phone calls to Democratic lawmakers resulted in 56 yeas and 42 nays — four short of the 60 votes needed to pass.

“The president believes that it is wrong to play politics with a pipeline project whose route has yet to be proposed,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said when asked about Obama’s lobbying efforts earlier in the day.

The amendment to the highway bill authored by Sen. John Hoeven (R- N.D.) would have stripped the president of his authority to deny the needed permit to build the cross-border pipeline from Canada to Texas.

“Frankly, it’s hard to even comprehend how out of touch (Obama) is on this issue,” said Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“I mean, think about it: at a moment when millions are out of work, gas prices are skyrocketing and the Middle East is in turmoil, we’ve got a president who’s up making phone calls trying to block a pipeline here at home. It’s unbelievable,” McConnell said.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told Obama to put down the phone and stop lobbying against the creation of new jobs. Republicans tout the pipeline as the nation’s largest shovel-ready project that would create 20,000 jobs.

“This is ridiculous, with price of gas soaring, the president blasts anyone who criticizes his lack of an energy strategy, but then he’s lobbying to stop a common-sense amendment allowing Keystone XL pipeline to move forward,” Hatch said.

That measure was further diluted by an alternative amendment offered by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) that would eventually approve the project but also sought to block any export of oil brought into the U.S. to be refined.

“A vote for (Wyden’s) bill is a vote to block the project, make no mistake,” Hoeven said.

Wyden said his amendment would ensure that all of the oil would be used by American consumers and not sold to China.

“When you build a pipeline 2,000 miles across the nation, our challenge is to do it right,” Wyden said.

Wyden’s amendment also failed on a vote of 34 yeas to 64 nays.

“Millions of miles of pipelines cross this country, but for some reason, this one pipeline is a problem?” Hoeven said.

TransCanada has announced that it will go ahead and construct one leg of the project that extends from Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas, and will push ahead for the permit to cross the northern border next year.

Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Steven Chu testified before a House panel earlier in the day where he faced questions about the pipeline and previous comments he made that the administration’s goal was not to lower gas prices.

“The president and everybody in the administration want to do what we can to lower the price of gasoline because it has a severe effect on the pocketbook of Americans and it affects American businesses,” Chu told the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on energy and power.

“There is no single magic bullet that can instantaneously do that,” said Chu, who also told the panel he does not own a car.

Some lawmakers were not convinced that the administration is doing all it can to lower gas prices.

“What has the president done to help solve our energy problems?” asked Rep. Fred Upton, (R-Mich.), chairman of the full committee.

“President Obama has twice rejected the Keystone XL pipeline project and all the job creation and secure energy supplies it would deliver,” Upton said. “The president has recently begun to brag that he supports an ‘all of the above’ energy policy, but these actions look more like a policy of ‘nothing from below.’”

Chu was criticized last week after he suggested to the House Appropriations Committee that the Obama administration was not working to reduce the price of gas. Asked by Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) then if the overall goal was to bring down the price of gasoline, Chu said “no.”

[ Energy Secretary Chu Admits Administration OK with High Gas Prices ]

“The overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy,” Chu said.


Audrey Hudson, an award-winning investigative journalist, is a Congressional Correspondent for HUMAN EVENTS. A native of Kentucky, Mrs. Hudson has worked inside the Beltway for nearly two decades — on Capitol Hill as a Senate and House spokeswoman, and most recently at The Washington Times covering Congress, Homeland Security, and the Supreme Court.  Follow Audrey on Twitter and Facebook.

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Voodoo Environomics

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By H. Leighton Steward
Posted on Feb. 16, 2012

President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone Pipeline wasn’t, as he claimed, based on science or the environment. And it certainly wasn’t based on sound economic policy. The decision was, in fact, the product of Voodoo Environomics: a destructive blend of bad science based on fear-mongering and manipulated research with the bad economics of green job fantasies and “starve the beast” energy politics.

At the very heart of Voodoo Environomics is, of course, the much-hyped theory linking man-made CO2 and climate change. Without the world’s policy focus on CO2 emissions, climate change alarmists would be robbed of the ammunition they need to change and control human behavior via draconian energy policies. They’d also be robbed of the substantial financial support needed to continue their biased research.

When adopted as official government policy, Voodoo Environomics can wreak havoc on the economy and represents a double whammy for working Americans. The admitted goal of CO2-slashing schemes like Cap & Trade is to jack up the price of energies like gasoline and coal to make expensive alternative energies more financially competitive. Of course their proponents hope you don’t realize that it’s ordinary Americans who are stuck paying higher prices for utilities and gasoline.

But the hit working Americans take under Voodoo Environomics doesn’t end with higher utility bills and gas prices. In bowing to environmental extremists in rejecting the Keystone Pipeline project, Obama has abandoned working Americans… or should I say unemployed Americans in search of good jobs.

In fact, Obama managed the rare feat of uniting business and labor in crying foul over this senseless decision. Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers decries the loss of 20,000 direct jobs and another 118,000 spinoff jobs that would have resulted from Keystone. Standing next to him, Terry O’Sullivan, head of the Laborers’ International Union of North America said, “Blue collar construction workers across the U.S. will not forget this (decision).”

The application of Voodoo Environomics also puts style over substance. Obama’s rejection of Keystone won’t stop the extraction of oil from Canada’s oil sands – the primary objective behind the pressure to kill the project. Canada will proceed without pause in exploiting their oil sands, regardless of what American politicians or environmental extremists say or do.

Anti-Keystone activists also point to the need to protect the Ogallala Aquifer, which encompasses parts of eight states and underlies a portion of the proposed route of the Keystone pipeline. But reviews of the thousands and thousands of miles of oil and natural gas pipelines over the Ogallala, some of which have been transporting oil for more than a half a century, show no contamination of the aquifer.

What it does do is ensure that oil won’t be shipped and refined by Americans and will likely go to other nations, particularly China. This may sound like hyperbole, and I wish it were. But Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in lambasting Obama’s rejection of Keystone, said that Canada would look to China to sell their oil.

America’s energy insecurity is moving into a dangerous new phase while our economy remains anemic and unemployment systemic. Rather than strengthening America’s energy position with a close ally and neighbor like Canada, Obama has increased our dependence on energy supplies from less-friendly nations that ensure little or no environmental safeguards.

The negative impact of this decision doesn’t end there. America’s risk exposure to dangerous energy disruptions stemming from global hotspots just went up. Such disruptions, such as those that could result from a crisis such as one brewing in the Straits of Hormuz, would be personal disaster for working Americas and a significant national security crisis for America.

The phantom gains and real losses stemming from Voodoo Environomics are starting to be realized. America needs more opportunities, not lost opportunities. Unfortunately for working Americans, there’s a greater abundance of the latter.

H. Leighton Steward is a geologist, environmentalist, author, and retired energy industry executive. He currently chairs the organization Plants Need CO2.

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Obama’s Words Don’t Match with Action on Oil and Gas

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Romina Boccia
January 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm

At this State of the Union address, President Obama proudly stated that “American oil production is the highest it’s been in eight years” and declared that his Administration would “open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources.” While President Obama spoke favorably of the role that oil and gas development play in America, the President’s and his Administration’s actions don’t match with his words.

There are several areas where the President and his Administration are unreasonably hindering access to more oil and gas for Americans and threatening the industry with punitive measures:

  • Keystone permit rejection. The Keystone XL pipeline would deliver oil from our Canadian ally, relieve some of the pain of high prices at the gas pump, and create jobs in America. Nevertheless, and despite a State Department environmental review concluding that the project poses no significant environmental risk, the President chose to reject TransCanada’s permit application to build the pipeline.
  • Targeted tax hikes. The President continues to threaten the oil industry with targeted tax hikes. Under the rhetoric of eliminating subsidies for the industry, the President’s proposal would eliminate certain tax treatments for oil that are available to many industries, effectively singling out the oil industry for a tax hike.
  • Slowdown of production on federal lands. While American oil production has been increasing, the vast majority of that production is taking place on private lands. Production on federal lands is actually 40 percent lower than it was 10 years ago. The House Natural Resources Committee also reports that under the Obama Administration, 2010 had the lowest number of onshore leases issued since 1984.
  • Fracking regulation. Hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) is a proven oil and gas extraction process that should not be subject to overly burdensome regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency is currently considering federal regulation of the fracking process under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The problem is that the agency is following a procedure that even the Department of Energy criticized for its “selective focus” on “negative outcomes.”

Words alone will not make energy more abundant and affordable, nor will they create the energy-related jobs that would make the American economy stronger. If the President is truly concerned about increasing America’s energy access, he certainly has a funny way of showing it.

For policies in that direction, Heritage policy analyst Nick Loris explains in two papers how to make gas and electricity prices more affordable and how to create jobs and raise government revenue through energy exploration.

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Obama Puppetmaster Warren Buffett Biggest Winner From Keystone Pipeline Rejection

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Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/24/2012 08:36 –0500

Just when one thinks American crony capitalism couldn’t hit new lows, here comes Warren Buffett and his personal puppet, the president, proving everyone wrong once more. Because if one thinks there is no (s)quid pro quo for all that “sage” advice that Buffett has been giving to Obama on extracting as much wealth as possible from future wealthy Americans (before they decide they have had enough with this crony shit and leave the country for good), one would be fatally wrong. As it turns out, it is not just natural resources and aquifer purity that Obama had in mind when sealing the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline. No – it appears there were far more relevant numerial metrics that determined Obama’s decisions. Such as the bottom line number of Buffett’s Burlington Northern, which according to Bloomberg, is among U.S. and Canadian railroads that stand to benefit from the Obama administration’s decision to reject TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline permit. ‘“Whatever people bring to us, we’re ready to haul,” Krista York-Wooley, a spokeswoman for Burlington Northern, a unit of Buffett’s Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), said in an interview. If Keystone XL “doesn’t happen, we’re here to haul.” And quite delighted to reap the windfalls of unfounded populist fears she forgot to add. Because while the whole “carbon-credit” multi-trillion top line expansion scheme for Goldman under the pretense of actually caring for the environment may have collapsed, it is not preventing others from trying and succeeding where even Goldman has failed.

From Bloomberg:

Rail car production is already at a three-year high as manufacturers such as Greenbrier Cos Inc. (GBX) and American Railcar Industries Inc. (ARII) expand to meet demand for sand used in oil and gas exploration, according to Steve Barger, an analyst at Keybanc Capital Markets Inc. in Cleveland, citing Railway Supply Institute statistics.

Rail-car suppliers can add capacity, Hatch said.

“Railroads are not just a stopgap while we wait for a pipeline,” Hatch said in an interview. “They are potentially part of the long-term solution.”

Railroads are being used in North Dakota (STOND1), where oil producers have spurred a fivefold increase in output by using intensive drilling practices in the Bakken, a geologic formation that stretches from southern Alberta to the northern U.S. Great Plains. During 2011, rail capacity in the region tripled to almost 300,000 barrels a day as higher production exceeded what pipelines handle, according to the State Department report on Keystone XL.

Burlington Northern carries about 25 percent of the oil from the Bakken, said Krista York-Wooley, the railroad spokeswoman. The company can carry higher volumes from North Dakota or Alberta, she said.

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP)’s shipments from North Dakota climbed to more than 13,000 carloads last year from about 500 in 2009, Ed Greenberg, a spokesman, said in an e-mail. The Calgary- based company has a similar plan in western Canada.

“With an extensive rail network and proven expertise in moving energy, CP offers a flexible option for transporting crude oil and other energy-related products to and from key locations in North America,” Vice President Tracy Robinson said in an e-mail. “Rail is scalable, allowing CP to effectively keep pace with the shipping needs of producers.”

So those wondering how it is that AAR railroad statistics continue to be so very strong, it is not because the economy actually justifies it: it is because crony interests such as those of the Octogenarian of Omaha demand it as “payment” for their crony collegiality with the biggest dunce president since Carter.

In other news, it is truly amazing how with every new development, America is now becoming like one giant conspiracy theory, only this time it is actually not a theory as with every passing day we see it enacted in practice.

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