CUSHING — President Barack Obama's speech near Cushing on Thursday drew strong opinions and protests from a variety of interest groups.
Crowds along the motorcade route held signs with a variety of messages including “Drill, baby, drill,” “Oklahomans for Obama,” “Stop Keystone” and “Tar Sands are Toxic.”
Americans for Prosperity opposed the president for his efforts to promote renewable energy with tax credits and other incentives at the expense of the oil and natural gas industry.
“The truth is the Obama administration has repeatedly blocked domestic energy production, vilified the oil and gas industry and actually cheered the rise of fuel prices,” AFP President Tim Phillips said. AFP activists held signs and rallied in Cushing while the president gave his speech.
The Domestic Energy Producers Alliance had a similar message.
“President Obama's message of support for the oil industry is completely disingenuous because he has spent three years discouraging oil production,” said Mike Cantrell, Oklahoma oilman and member of the producers alliance. “He stands up there and takes credit for the things the private sector has done without him.”
While some protesters said the president is not providing enough support to the oil and natural gas industry, others criticized the president for relying too heavily on fossil fuels in his energy agenda.
Friends of the Earth criticized the president's “all-of-the-above” strategy for its inclusion of both the Keystone XL project and nuclear power.
“President Obama is betraying his promise of clean energy leadership,” Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica said. “By refusing to make choices to prioritize clean energy over the outdated, dirty energy of the past, President Obama is abdicating his moral responsibility to lead. He's giving in to political headwinds engineered by the big bucks of dirty energy industries.”
Meanwhile, a group of American Indian activists gathered in Cushing to protest the president's support of the Keystone pipeline.
Marty Cobenais of the Indigenous Environmental Network said Canadian tar sands drilling and construction of the XL pipeline will desecrate sacred sites and artifacts.
“Tar sands is devastating First Nations communities in Canada already, and now they want to bring that environmental, health and social devastation to U.S. tribes,” Cobenais said.