RIPLEY — President Barack Obama on Thursday pledged his full support behind the Keystone Gulf Pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf Coast and said he will review the more controversial northern leg of the Keystone XL pipe that would run from Canada to Cushing.
“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,” the president said before about 150 hand-selected guests at the TransCanada pipe yard northwest of Cushing.
As for the northern line, Obama said the problem is that Nebraska regulators have raised concerns about the proposed route over an important aquifer.
“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,” Obama said.
Obama said he has not outright rejected the project. Instead, he asked TransCanada to continue working with Nebraska regulars to find a more acceptable route.
“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,” Obama said. “That's common sense.”
The speech was part of a four-state energy tour designed to promote the Obama administration's “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, which the president has said looks to include both traditional and renewable energy sources in the country's broader energy policy.
The speech drew strong praise from the delegation in attendance.
“It was a great day for Oklahoma and a great day for this country,” said Angela Monson, chairwoman of the Oklahoma City School Board. “The president really talked about his support of oil production and the value of oil production in Oklahoma and across the country. He also made it clear that we cannot provide all the energy needs for this country when we use those sources that are not renewable. It was a great, well-balanced presentation about the utilization of energy and the need to diversify the production of energy, as well, in this country.”
Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said the president's message is important to the state and its economic future.