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President arrives in Oklahoma

The president heads Thursday to the Cushing area where he is expected to talk about domestic energy and a major pipeline project that would cross through Oklahoma.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: March 21, 2012

“Our headquarters is like a beehive,” he said. “We've just had a jillion calls, people dropping by ... There's a lot of excitement.”

People are asking for information on how to see the president, said Collins, who was invited in December to the White House for dinner with Obama. But all the events are closed to the public. The state Democratic Party is not organizing any rally because it has received little information from the White House; officials are suggesting residents can make the trip to Cushing and perhaps get a glimpse of the president's motorcade as it drives through town.

Collins, who received an invitation to Thursday's event in Cushing, said the Oklahoma trip is not a campaign stop for the president.

“It's purely, you might say, business,” Collins said. “He's going to talk about energy and the building of that pipeline from Cushing south to Port Arthur. He's going to also talk about renewable energy.

“That's the reason it's closed to the public because he's not asking for voters,” he said.

Pam Pollard, vice chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, said she is surprised Obama didn't schedule at least one event for Oklahomans to see him.

“I'm glad that the president has seen the importance of Oklahoma and is finally willing to come to our great state,” she said. “I have never seen a president come to our state without allowing some type of openness to the general public.”

Pollard said she considered the visit by the president, who is seeking re-election in November, to Oklahoma to be a political trip. But she said it at least seems to focus discussion on domestic energy production.

Pollard said Republicans and others unhappy with Obama's energy policies could take part in a demonstration in Cushing. Americans for Prosperity is teaming up with Energy Citizens to host a rally for those who want the president to develop an aggressive energy policy. The event is set from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Fechner Pump and Supply.

Fallin is sending her commerce secretary, Dave Lopez, to the Cushing event to represent her office. Her energy secretary is out of state on a business trip. A spokesman for the governor said the governor's office didn't receive official notification of the president's visit to Oklahoma until Sunday night, although the White House released information Friday about his trip.

Fallin's on a family trip

Fallin, who is scheduled to return Thursday from a family vacation in Puerto Rico, issued a statement saying she hopes the president, who she said has an anti-energy policy, will take time to listen to Oklahomans during his visit.

“I think they will tell him that — far from supporting the responsible domestic production of American-made energy — his administration has undermined it at every turn,” Fallin said.

“Rather than embracing the truly remarkable technological breakthroughs that have resulted in the discovery of an additional 100-year supply of natural gas, the president and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) continue their hostility to basic and time-tested practices like hydraulic fracturing.

“In Oklahoma, we recognize that the energy industry is an important ally in job creation and economic development,” the governor said. “We believe that American energy is a resource, not a hazardous waste. My great hope is that some of that attitude will rub off on our president, who has lost his way on energy policy and so many other issues.”

House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, said he tried earlier this week to get credentials to attend the president's event in Cushing, but space was already filled.

“I'm very interested to hear what he to say,” Steele said. “Obviously, we've not always agreed on energy policy, but I think it's very, very important that we hear him out.”


Steve Lackmeyer, Business Writer


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