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In Cushing, Obama Says He Wants Fed To Cut Red Tape, Expedite Pipeline

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President  Barack Obama told a crowd near Cushing, Okla., on Thursday morning he supports a segment of the larger Keystone XL project that he rejected earlier this year. President Barack Obama told a crowd near Cushing, Okla., on Thursday morning he supports a segment of the larger Keystone XL project that he rejected earlier this year.
Obama said the production of oil is not an issue for the country. Obama said the production of oil is not an issue for the country.
The president began his remarks Thursday by saying it was "good to be back in Oklahoma." The president began his remarks Thursday by saying it was "good to be back in Oklahoma."

By Brandi Ball, NewsOn6.com

RIPLEY, Oklahoma -- President  Barack Obama told a crowd near Cushing, Okla., on Thursday morning he supports a segment of the larger Keystone XL project that he rejected earlier this year.

The southern leg, which will be built by TransCanada and stretch from Cushing to the Gulf Coast for oil exportation, is a priority for America's energy development, the president said. 

Since it won't cross a U.S. border, the shorter pipeline doesn't require presidential approval, but Obama said he is immediately issuing a directive to federal agencies "to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles and make this project a priority." 

The 485-mile southern portion of the pipeline would remove a bottleneck in the country's oil transportation system, as rising oil production has outgrown pipelines' capacity to deliver oil to refineries.

Obama said the production of oil is not an issue for the country.

"We are producing so much... we can't get enough oil to the refineries fast enough," Obama said.

The president said he hasn't written off the northern leg of the pipeline, which would stretch from Canada to the Gulf Coast and is backed by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, but he still has concerns. Obama said he would be "happy to review future permits" by TransCanada, but said the safety and health of the American people will take precedent.

Implementing the southern and northern portions of the pipeline aren't an impossibility, the president said.

"We don't have to choose between one or the other; we can do both," Obama said.

Obama also took aim at critics of his energy policies, saying many have accused his administration of dragging its feet when it comes to domestic oil.

"Anybody who suggests that somehow we're suppressing oil production -- isn't paying attention," Obama said.

He also said that domestic drilling alone isn't the answer.

"Fact is, producing more oil at home isn't enough by itself to bring gas prices down," Obama said. "We have an oil market that is global. We use 20 percent of world's oil. We only produce 2 percent.

"Even if I put an oil rig on the South Lawn, next to the Washington Monument... we'd still have to buy the rest of our needs someplace else."

The price of oil will still be set by the global market, which is riddled with tensions in the Middle East and concerns about Iran, the president said.

Being ahead of the curve in innovation is key to success in energy, Obama said.

Improving renewable energy, clean energy and becoming more efficient are goals the president outlined for his "all of the above" energy policy. He said the answer to the future lies in biofuels, fuel-efficient cars, solar power and wind power, which he noted has nearly tripled in Oklahoma.

"I don't want the energy jobs of the future to go to other countries," Obama said. "If we're going to end dependence on foreign oil, [and] bring gas prices down instead of playing politics… we gotta use our innovation, our brain power, our creativity."

Those things, Obama said, "will bring jobs, growth and success here in Cushing" and across the United States.

Before Obama adressed the crowd in Ripley, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., issued a statement.

"While I am always happy to welcome any president to Oklahoma, taxpayers should understand that the Obama administration has been hostile to the very sector of the economy he wants to take credit for supporting," the statement said.

"In Oklahoma, we have a phrase to describe the president's position: 'All hat, no cattle.' The president offers big talk on domestic energy production but has offered little action to back up his claims."

Obama began his remarks Thursday by saying it was "good to be back in Oklahoma." He visited during his 2008 campaign, but this was his first trip since being elected.

The president's speech was by invitation only, but some were lucky enough to be included. Despite dozens who protested nearby, one veteran politician was ecstatic about seeing the Commander In Chief.

"I felt like I met a rock star today really, I don't think I'll ever wash my hand," said State Representive Jabar Schumate,  D-Tulsa.

Obama arrived in Oklahoma Wednesday evening and was greeted by OKC Mayor Mick Cornett and military leaders. Gov. Fallin wasn't in the country to greet him, as she left last week for a family vacation in Puerto Rico. Lt. Governor Todd Lamb is at a conference in Washington, D.C. 

The president arrived in Ripley on Thursday morning after leaving OKC. There were some questions about whether he would be able to go to the Cushing area because of the rainy weather, but cloudy skies did not prevent him from flying in Marine One.

He boarded Air Force One at Tinker Air Force Base and left the state around 12:30 p.m.

Related Stories:

3/21/2012: President Obama Arrives In Oklahoma City

3/21/2012: Fallin Not In Oklahoma To Welcome President Obama

3/21/2012: Oklahomans Voice Feelings About Obama, Pipeline

3/21/2012: No State Officials Will Welcome President To Oklahoma

3/22/2012: TransCanada Talks Progress On Oklahoma To Texas Pipeline

3/22/2012: State Rep: Fallin's Absence At Obama's Visit 'Embarrassing' For Oklahoma

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