By Ricky O'Bannon
CNHI News Service
President Barack Obama was in and out of Payne County in a matter of minutes Thursday morning, spending 11 of those minutes talking about an encompassing “all-of-the-above” energy strategy to keep America running on U.S.-produced energy.
“I was very glad he was able to come,” said Stillwater Mayor John Bartley, who was invited to the event two weeks after taking office.
“(What's) good for Cushing is good for Stillwater — and what's good for Stillwater is good for Cushing,” Bartley said. “The oil and gas industry, while it's not Stillwater's primary (industry), it is very important.”
Obama’s speech was in Rep. Lee Denney’s area of the state.
“This is exciting for Cushing. The southern portion of the line signals more jobs for the area,” said Denney, R-Cushing, who admits she would have preferred to hear Obama announce his approval for the northern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline — but she was happy nonetheless for the project to progress.
Obama announced Thursday he would tell his administration to cut red tape and get the southern leg of the Keystone XL going. That portion of the 36-inch line will stretch from Cushing to the Texas Gulf Coast. The northern segment from Canada into the United States is on hold after the president rejected a permit request, opposed by the governor of Nebraska and others as a threat to groundwater. Obama said he will consider new permit requests.
The Keystone XL southern portion does not require the same permitting process because it does not cross international lines. The plan does call for approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. TransCanada announced nearly a month ago the company was going ahead with the Keystone XL from Cushing south.
While many oppose Obama’s Keystone position has not going nearly far enough to get the north pipeline built, the Keystone XL is not without vocal opposition. Environmentalists continue to raise concerns about a northern route. Native American protesters were in Cushing Thursday morning to oppose the southern leg, saying the route would desecrate sacred tribal burial grounds.