U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said he expects the Obama administration to delay a presidential permit for TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline as long as possible.
In November, TransCanada postponed the start date for the $5.4 billion pipeline into 2016. The pipeline will transport oil sands from Alberta, Canada, to storage facilities in Cushing.
TransCanada is expected to complete the southern leg of the pipeline, from Cushing to the Gulf Coast, early next month. It didn’t require a presidential permit because it doesn’t cross the U.S. border.
In a March 2012 visit to Cushing, Obama promised to make the Keystone pipeline’s Cushing to Gulf Coast leg a priority, but wasn’t ready to offer the same support for the main leg.
Environmentalists continue work to block the pipeline’s main leg. They argue a pipeline leak would devastate lands and development of Alberta’s oil sands adds to greenhouse gas emissions.
The U.S. State Department is supervising an environmental review to determine if the Keystone XL project will contribute to global warming. A draft analysis released in March indicated the project wouldn’t boost greenhouse-gas emissions because companies would use other methods, like trains, to bring the oil sands into the U.S.
In November, TransCanada spokesman James Millar said the $5.4 billion price includes extensions to gather oil from the Bakken formation in Montana and North Dakota to the storage hub in Cushing.
Inhofe discussed the Affordable Health Care Act, the Senate’s changes to confirmation rules and other topics at a small gathering of developers and bankers Thursday at Stillwater Country Club.
“He (Obama) has an obligation to the far-left environmentalists and their crown jewel is that pipeline,” Inhofe said. “I think he will probably maintain his opposition as long as he can hold out,” Inhofe said.
TransCanada rerouted the pipeline through Nebraska because of environmental concerns. Nebraska officials have signed off on the pipeline.
“Since Nebraska’s come around, it’s a loner situation for him,” Inhofe said.
The Oklahoma senator said the pipeline delay is just part of the president’s war on fossil fuels. Obama’s battle plans include delaying the TransCanada pipeline project and continued opposition to opening public lands for oil and gas production.
The U.S. could be energy independent if Obama lifted the oil and gas ban on public lands, Inhofe said.
“It would be a matter of a few months before we would be totally energy independent in this country,” he said.
Here are Inhofe’s thoughts on other topics:
The Affordable Health Care Act: “The thing that has captured the total media is Obamacare. As bad as Obamacare is, and it’s actually worse than people think, ... there are other things equally bad that are happening because of this administration.”
The Democrat-controlled Senate’s decision to allow simple majority to approve presidential appointments: “The nuclear option happened just a few days ago. ... The Senate has the confirmation obligation and it’s always been a super majority. He (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) changed that to a simple majority. Any of the president’s appointments — judicial or otherwise — can now get through. It makes no difference how bad they are because the Democrats control the Senate.”
Judicial appointments to the Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.: “In the next couple of months to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, ... they are extremists — extreme liberals. The reason they are using D.C., ... is the over-regulation by the EPA, those cases will wind up in the D.C. circuit which they are stacking now with liberal justices.”
Chris Day is managing editor of the Stillwater NewsPress.