President's Cushing Visit Highlights His Continuing Obstruction of Keystone XL Project

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-AK, today joined Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Richard Lugar, R-Ind.; John Cornyn, R-Texas; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; and David Vitter, R-La.; in criticizing President Obama’s visit to Cushing, Oklahoma, saying it highlights his continued obstruction of the Keystone XL pipeline project while the economy languishes and gas prices continue to rise for American consumers.

The senators were joined by Rep. Lee Terry, R-Nebraska, who has offered Keystone legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

After more than three years of environmental study by various agencies, the president in January denied TransCanada Corp. a permit for the entire project, stranding more than 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada, North Dakota and other upper Great Plains states. Today, however, he took credit for a section of the pipeline that required no presidential approval. The fact is that the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline doesn’t require presidential consent because it doesn’t cross an international border. It requires approval by only state authorities and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, not the president.

“After rejecting the larger Keystone project, the president is claiming credit for a section that he has no authority over – and that would proceed with or without his involvement. If you hear a lot of one-hand clapping from us in the wake of the president’s speech, it’s because there’s nothing to actually commend him for,” said Murkowski, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

While the president is on a four-state tour to promote his energy policy as an “all-of-the-above” approach, he is blocking vital energy infrastructure for our country, the senators said. In fact, the president made phone calls to individual Democratic senators to dissuade them from voting for an amendment to the U.S. Senate highway bill that would have approved the full project.

Murkowski said Keystone is a perfect example of the kind of project – privately financed with no need for taxpayer funding – that government should be embracing to get the economy back on track. Instead it’s become the victim of election-year politics, she said.

“I’m hoping the president realizes that he has to do far more than give speeches if he wants to have an impact on fuel prices. He’s embraced our ‘all of the above’ policy, now he needs to own it,” Murkowski said. “If he followed our plan to produce another 3 million barrels per day – from ANWR, from offshore, and from the Rocky Mountain West – we could cut out OPEC imports almost entirely, greatly strengthen our economy, and reduce oil market volatility. Think about that. It’s within our grasp. It’s worth doing. And it’s time for the president to work with us to make it happen.”