Obama Tries to Take Both Sides on the Keystone Pipeline Debate
President Obama continued his four-city energy-themed campaign tour this week with a stop in Cushing, Oklahoma where the southern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline will begin. When finished, the pipeline will run from Cushing to the Gulf of Mexico carrying oil to Texas refineries.
Speaking to the local crowd, he made comments that on the surface appear to champion the pipeline his administration blocked earlier in the year. This led to a flurry of misleading headlines that spread at internet speed.
The President’s political advisors are no doubt counting on the fact that Obama's non-announcement about “fast tracking” the southern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline would play well in the sound bite media.
And they are right. One headline announced: “Obama changes course, fast-tracks Keystone pipeline.”
Look beyond the headlines and you will see nothing of the sort. The President promised to “make this new pipeline a priority”. But Obama is attempting to take credit for the southern portion of the pipeline even though the project is likely little more than 60 days away from breaking ground with or without him. There is little he could do to stop it and even less he could do to speed it up.
The construction of the southern portion of the pipeline is already set to begin as early as June pending final permits from the Army Corps of Engineers. Since those permits won't bear Obama's signature it's hard to see what he could possibly do to expedite that process.
Obama is walking a fine line trying to maintain his green credentials with his political base on the left while appearing to be proactive in the face of rising gas prices which, if left unchecked, will cause him major headaches in his reelection bid. This has led to such strange contradictions as him going out of his way to give the government credit for the development of the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing in the natural gas industry and his recent efforts to simultaneously kill half of the Keystone pipeline while attempting to take credit for the completion of the other half.Continued on the next page