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Obama defends handling of Keystone pipeline

By KEN THOMAS Published: March 22, 2012
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CUSHING, Okla. (AP) — President Barack Obama firmly defended his record on oil drilling Thursday, ordering the government to fast-track an Oklahoma pipeline while rebuking Congress for playing politics with a larger Canada-to-Gulf Coast pipeline project.

Deep in Republican oil country, Obama said lawmakers refused to give his administration enough time review the controversial Keystone pipeline in order to ensure that it wouldn't compromise the health and safety of people living in surrounding areas.

“Unfortunately, Congress decided they wanted their own timeline,” Obama said. “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.”

Facing fresh criticism from Republicans who blame him for gas prices near $4 a gallon, Obama announced Thursday that he was directing federal agencies to expedite a 485-mile line from Oklahoma to refineries on Texas' Gulf Coast that would remove a critical bottleneck in the country's oil transportation system.

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