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Obama pledges to speed up Keystone oil pipeline approval

World Pipelines,

During visit to an Oklahoma oil pipe yard that appeared much like a stop on an election campaign, President Obama said, “Today I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles and make this project a priority. Go ahead and get it done.” He was, of course, referring to the Keystone XL pipeline

Despite the President's apparent enthusiasm for the project, the company in charge of the development of the Canada - Texas Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada originally had the project blocked by the Obama administration; a move, which has given the President’s Republican opposition real ammunition as the debate over rising domestic fuel prices heats up. According to the Energy Information Administration, gasoline prices have already risen by more than US$ 0.30 per gallon compared to prices in February.

The development of the pipeline is widely expected to drain a build-up of crude oil at Cushing, the US oil storage hub, by making deliveries to Gulf Coast refineries easier. By freeing up these supplies, many argue that gasoline prices will fall.

Though many might see Obama’s decision to expedite the pipeline’s approval as a good thing, the President risks alienating environmentalists who supported the original delay. The president of the National Wildlife Federation, Larry Schweiger said, “President Obama has taken a dangerous wrong turn on energy … Rushing pipelines and drill rigs for rich oil executives will only delay the investments we need in renewable energy and create long-lasting damage to our waters and lands.” Some even suggested that speeding up the approval process would be tantamount to cutting corners on safety.

Conversely, there are those that feel though the decision to hurry Keystone’s approval is a step in the right direction, there is much more that needs to be done. The President and CEO of the Association of Oil Pipelines, Andy Black, said, “The TransCanada Keystone XL Gulf Coast Project, addresses only part of the problem … Expanding crude oil production in north Dakota, Montana, Western Canada, of other US production regions cannot reach the Gulf Coast in sufficient amounts by pipeline. Additional pipeline capacity is also needed from these areas into Cushing and beyond.”

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