Senators: President Obama's Cushing Visit Highlights His Continuing Obstruction of Keystone XL Project

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), along with Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska),  Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and David Vitter (R-La.) today said President Barack Obama’s visit to Cushing, Okla. just highlights that he is continuing to obstruct the Keystone XL pipeline project while our economy languishes and gas prices continue to rise for American consumers. The senators were joined by Congressmen Lee Terry (R-Nebraska) and Connie Mack (R-Fla.), who are sponsoring Keystone legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

After more than three years of environmental study by various agencies, the president in January denied TransCanada Corp. a permit for the entire project, stranding more than 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada, North Dakota and other upper Great Plains states. Today, however, he took credit for a section of the pipeline that required no presidential approval. The fact is, the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline doesn’t require presidential consent because it doesn’t cross an international border. It requires approval by only state authorities and the Army Corps of Engineers, not the president. 

The president made his remarks at a TransCanada Corp. facility in Cushing, Okla., where the company is storing pipe to build the southern leg of the project, which will connect Cushing to the Gulf Coast. The full Keystone XL pipeline is a 1,700-mile, $7 billion privately-funded infrastructure project that will carry Canadian oil from the province of Alberta in Canada to the United States Gulf Coast. 

While the president is on a four-state tour to promote his energy policy as an “all-of-the-above” approach, he is blocking vital energy infrastructure for our country, the senators said. In fact, the president made phone calls to individual Democratic senators to dissuade them from voting for an amendment to the U.S. Senate highway bill that would have approved the full project. 

“The Keystone XL pipeline is about producing more safe, dependable energy for our country, reducing our dependence on Middle Eastern oil and holding down the price of gasoline at the pump for American consumers,” Senator Hoeven said. “So why is the president holding it up and then trying to take credit for it? This is bizarre. The president’s denial of the full Keystone XL pipeline project is causing real hardship for real people in my home state of North Dakota, where we’re still moving product by truck and rail rather than by pipeline, which is safer and more efficient.” 

Hoeven said the new pipeline would carry 100,000 barrels of crude oil a day from North Dakota’s oil patch, which would take up to 500 trucks a day off western North Dakota roads, reduce impacts on the state’s highways and make them safer for the people who live there. 

“As families and small businesses struggle with record high gasoline prices, President Obama should end his job-killing delay of the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Senator Thune. “Although TransCanada is moving forward with the southern portion of the pipeline, despite the administration rejecting the construction of the larger project, thousands of new jobs continue to be held hostage and additional oil supplies from Canada, North Dakota, and Montana are being blocked by the president for purely political reasons.” 

“Keystone is a perfect example of the kind of project – privately financed with no need for taxpayer funding – that we should be embracing to get the economy back on track. Instead it’s become the victim of election-year politics,” Senator Murkowski said.  

“President Obama’s public relations exercise in Cushing, Oklahoma does nothing to change the fact that he is blocking a vital project that would reduce our dependence on hostile oil producers and create thousands of private sector jobs at no taxpayer expense,” said Senator Lugar. “This incomprehensible obstructionism by the President will weaken our economy and our security.” 

“When the President arrives in Oklahoma, I hope he takes a hard look at all the jobs and livelihoods supported by the energy sector. Rather than bow to a radical segment of his base and shrug off 700,000 additional barrels a day of crude oil from Canada when we have $4-a-gallon gasoline, the President should approve Keystone XL and take his boot off the neck of the American economy,” Senator Cornyn said. 

“If this administration had spent even half as much time moving Keystone forward as they’ve spent pleading with Saudi Arabia to produce more oil, then our long-term outlook for prices at the pump would be much better,” said Vitter. “Instead, the president is participating in a glorified photo-op to claim credit for a pipeline he has repeatedly opposed. But that can’t cover up this administration’s record of constant obstruction when it comes to developing vast energy supplies here at home and from allies like Canada.” 

“The president can’t be all things to all people, but he is certainly trying.  Earlier this year, he energized environmentalists by denying the keystone XL Pipeline permit and by calling oil ‘the fuel of the past.’ Today, he is trying to win over Americans who want lower gas prices, by taking credit for increasing American oil production rates, and for expediting the southern section of the pipeline. Well, the president's say one thing and do another' game hasn't fooled anybody,” said Rep. Lee Terry.