WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama plans to visit Oklahoma next week, staying overnight in Oklahoma City on Wednesday and traveling the next day to the oil storage hub in Cushing, where he will talk about the administration's record on energy.
It will be Obama's first trip to Oklahoma during his presidency and comes at a time when he is battling Republicans over high gas prices and his rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline.
In recent speeches, Obama has been pointing out that he strongly supports the segment of the Keystone XL pipeline connecting Cushing to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.
TransCanada has announced that it will proceed with construction of that segment to relieve a bottleneck in Cushing that has been unable to move because of a lack of pipeline capacity.
The president is expected to deliver remarks on Thursday at a storage yard for pipes that will be used for the pipeline.
In a speech this week in Maryland, the president said, “We've approved dozens of new pipelines to move oil across the country. We announced our support for a new one in Oklahoma that will help get more oil down to refineries on the Gulf Coast.”
A White House official said Friday that the president would talk in Cushing about the administration's “sustained focus on expanding domestic oil production — with oil production currently at an eight-year high.”
Fight over Keystone XL
Oklahoma Republicans said Friday that the president deserved no credit for the increase in oil and gas production since his presidency began.
Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, said, “After single-handedly blocking the Keystone pipeline, it is audacious to now stand in Cushing to take credit for American energy production, as we can assume he will.
“I hope that Oklahomans can inform the president of the consequences of his previous energy decisions, and he can change his policy direction.”
The administration in January rejected the portion of the Keystone XL pipeline that would carry crude from Alberta, Canada, and Montana and North Dakota to Cushing because a route through Nebraska had not been determined.
TransCanada has said it would apply for a cross-border permit for the pipeline when the Nebraska route is resolved.
The president also personally lobbied Democratic senators this month to vote against a proposal that would have bypassed his administration and allowed Congress to approve the pipeline. The proposal got 56 votes but needed 60 for approval.