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Obama to fast-track Keystone to Gulf of Mexico

Announcement expected Thursday in Cushing, Okla.

Obama energy tour KeystoneEnlarge
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at Sempra U.S. Gas & Power's Copper Mountain Solar 1 facility in Boulder City, Nev., today. Obama is on a four-state tour promoting his energy policies. The Copper Mountain solar facility is the largest operating photo-voltaic plant operating in the country. (Ethan Miller/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama will endorse on Thursday the Keystone XL pipeline’s southern leg from Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico, Reuters reported.

A White House official said Obama would announce today in Cushing, Okla., that he’s asking the federal government to make Keystone permits a priority.

“More oil is flowing into Cushing than can flow out, creating a bottleneck that takes away the incentive for additional production, while also preventing oil from reaching refineries along the Gulf coast,” the official told Reuters today.

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The expected move comes weeks after the White House vetoed the pipeline’s route from northern Canada, through sensitive habitat in Nebraska, to Texas.

However, Obama is coming under increased scrutiny for rising gas prices, not something anyone wants in an election year.

TransCanada Energy, the company that wants to build the pipeline, is researching a new route.

The oil industry still isn’t happy with the announcement.

Executives want the entire $7.6-billion line built to tap into resources from northern Alberta, North Dakota and Montana.

“Approval of the entire Keystone XL pipeline should happen now — not after the election,” a group of oil executives wrote in a letter to The Oklahoman newspaper. “America's greatest benefit will come when we can transport oil from our best energy partner, Canada, and oil-rich North Dakota and Montana.”

Environmental groups that led the charge against Keystone expressed anger at Obama’s pending announcement, Postmedia News said.

Susan Casey-Lefkowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council said the oil sands are “dirty” energy, and North Americans should be spending more on alternative energy sources.

“We completely disagree with anything that would fast-track or expedite federal permits for the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline,” she told Postmedia. “People in America really don’t like this project and they don’t like it because it is a step too far toward getting more dirty energy.”

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/120321/obama-fast-track-keystone-gulf-mexico