Cushing, OK —
Robert Jones, who is the vice president for the Keystone pipeline project for TransCanada, told reporters following the president’s remarks he was pleased to hear what Obama said. He said the company expected to start construction on the southern portion of the pipeline by mid-2012 and the southern pipeline will take a year to complete.
While the southern section does not require a presidential permit, Jones said the company has to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Obama’s directive to expedite the project would apply to those agencies.
Jones said TransCanada is working on a new route for the northern portion of the pipeline that avoids the Nebraska Sandhills region that was a source of environmental concern. The TransCanada representative said he hoped a permit would be issued and construction could start mid-2013 for the northern pipeline.
During Thursday’s press conference, Jones was asked if he would call the president a friend of the Keystone project.
“I think that’s what we heard,” he said.
Cushing representatives were happy to hear the president endorse the southern pipeline and speak positively of a northern pipeline given it’ss environmentally sound, but some were hoping he would have gone further.
“I would have loved for him to say he would have signed the presidential order for the pipeline from Canada to Cushing, but he gave us hope that that’s in the future,” said Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing.
Cushing Mayor Evert Rossiter echoed that sentiment, but both he and Denney said they were pleased with the visit to their hometown.
“It’s just an honor to have him here,” Rossiter said.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., were not on hand to welcome the president to Oklahoma but both criticized him from afar.
Inhofe called Obama’s visit “disingenuous on a number of levels.”
Fallin, who was out of state vacationing in Puerto Rico, issued a statement through her Oklahoma City office accusing the president of taking credit “for successes in oil and gas production that his administration has nothing to do with and, in many cases, continues to actively obstruct.”
Ricky O’Bannon writes for the Stillwater (Okla.) NewsPress.