UPDATE: This is getting awfully confusing. The administration is saying that this isn't a flip-flop. They're saying that this is what the President said he'd do last January - that he'd fast-track the non-controversial part of the pipeline, the lower part.
THE WHITE HOUSE_________________
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 18, 2012
Statement by the President on the Keystone XL Pipeline
Earlier today, I received the Secretary of State’s recommendation on the pending application for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment. As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree.
This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people. I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my Administration’s commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil. Under my Administration, domestic oil and natural gas production is up, while imports of foreign oil are down. In the months ahead, we will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security –including the potential development of an oil pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico – even as we set higher efficiency standards for cars and trucks and invest in alternatives like biofuels and natural gas. And we will do so in a way that benefits American workers and businesses without risking the health and safety of the American people and the environment.
Although I can imagine a lot of Americans, not on the left, thinking that additional drilling will help lower gasoline prices - even though AP showed that this is untrue - we're hearing that the Obama administration is speeding up approval of the controversial Keystone pipeline. Even though we now know that it won't help lower gas prices. But people will "think" it will help, and rather than actually solve the problem, let's play the Republican game where we simply pretend to solve problems since it will fool the public and maybe help us in the polls.
Not to mention, I thought we just killed this thing? So now our side is bringing it back up, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
The tar sands oil extraction process is the last thing the environment needs. Heaven forbid anyone discusses how dirty the process of oil extraction is or makes an effort to get serious about moving away from an oil based society. But hey, there's a campaign to win and Republicans to appease. The Guardian:
The president will use a stop in Cushing, Oklahoma on Thursday morning to announce an executive order directing government agencies to speed up permits for the southern US-only segment of the pipeline, running from the town to Port Arthur, Texas
The approval – which brought angry reactions from environmental groups – could allow construction on the southern portion of the pipeline to begin before the November elections, instead of next year.
In addition, White House officials indicated in a conference call with reporters that Obama was likely to improve the entire route, which stretches more than 1,600 miles from the tar sands of Alberta to the refineries of Texas.