Local TV is showing President Obama walking from Marine One to Air Force One at Tinker Air Force Base. He turns, smiles and waves. And with that, his Oklahoma visit concludes. Wonder if he’ll be back this year?
From Chris Casteel in our Washington bureau, the full remarks from President Obama this morning in Cushing.
More from Energy Editor Adam Wilmoth, on the scene in Cushing:
After the speech, Donna Schoenkopf of Tecumseh approached the president and said she was born in the same hospital in Hawaii as he was. Without skipping a beat, he responded with: “Do you have your birth certificate?”
The president has left Cushing and is en route back to Tinker Air Force Base, according to a pool reporter:
The President left the Cushing Pipe Yard at 11:16 local and headed back to the helos for the ride to Tinker AFB.
En route, passed slightly larger roadside crowds, some with “drill, baby, drill” signs, some with “Oklahomans for Obama,” “Stop Keystone,” “Tar Sands are Toxic.”
Motorcade arrived Cushing landing zone at 11:38 local. Marine One lifted off at 11:42 local.
Obama gave a shout-out to Oklahoma’s wind industry as he talked about his “all-of-the-above” energy strategy: “But we’re also going to be looking at how we can continue to improve utilization of new energy sources, new clean energy and becoming more efficient. That means producing more biofuels, that means more fuel-efficient cars, more solar power, more wind power, which nearly tripled here in Oklahoma … I want them here in the United States of America, that’s what an all-of the above strategy is all about.”
Per the White House pool reporter traveling with the president, a little detail about his arrival in Cushing today:
Marine One touched down at Cushing, Okla. landing zone at 9:43 local.
He got in the motorcade for the drive to the pipe yard, en route at 9:47. En route, passed some residents waving flags with cardboard signs “Welcome, Mr. President,” and some protesters with peace signs and placards calling drones “un-human.”
Further, larger contingent of people (maybe fifty) with signs “Keystone, Yes,” and “Socialism not welcome here.”
Here’s a link to Obama’s executive order that is supposed to speed up the federal permitting process for the pipeline.
Well, those were brief remarks. Obama spoke for about 10 minutes. As expected, the president talked about expediting the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf Coast. He said drilling isn’t the problem with gasoline prices right now; it’s more to do with fears in the world energy markets over possible conflict in Iran.
“We are drilling all over the place right now,” Obama said. “That’s not the challenge. That’s not the problem. The problem is we’re producing so much but we don’t have enough pipeline capacity. There is a bottleneck right here because we can’t get oil to our refineries fast enough.”
President Obama is appearing now.
Photographers are darting to and fro in front of the live feed. We might be close.
The current view from the White House’s live stream of the Cushing event. Our own Adam Wilmoth says the rain has stopped, but it’s cold, overcast and windy.
Bloomberg has a good story on the permitting process for the southern leg of the Keystone pipeline that President Obama will be talking about in a few minutes:
President Barack Obama’s promise to expedite review of the southern leg of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline won’t speed up the timeline for the project, which already is slated to start construction as soon as June.
TransCanada is awaiting permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the last it needs to begin construction on the phase of the pipeline that will carry crude from the oil storage hub at Cushing, Oklahoma, to Gulf Coast refineries, Terry Cunha, a spokesman for the Calgary-based company, said in an e-mail message yesterday.
The latest from Energy Editor Adam Wilmoth in Cushing:
Invited guests are beginning to file in. I spoke to Rep. Emily Virgin of Norman and Rep. Cory Williams of Stillwater. Both (Democrats) said it is an honor to have the president in the state and that they appreciate his endorsement of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, which they say will lead to jobs and financial benefits to the state and country.
Williams said he was disappointed by the negative tone of Gov. Mary Fallin’s statement yesterday. In the statement, Fallin both welcomed President Obama and called him an obstructionist, criticizing his effort last month to block approval of the northern leg of the pipeline.
Gallup has a new poll out this morning showing a majority of Americans favor the Keystone XL pipeline. The poll shows 57 percent of respondents think the U.S. government should approve the pipeline. Another 29 percent were against approval, while 14 percent had no opinion.
Among political affiliation, 81 percent of Republicans were in favor, while 44 percent of Democrats backed the pipeline. Just over half (51 percent) of independents were in favor of the government approving the pipeline.
There was an interesting geographical breakdown, too. Approval was at 68 percent in the Midwest; 61 percent in the South and 52 percent in the West. Just 48 percent of those in the East favored approval of the pipeline.
A group of Native Americans and clean-energy advocates are also protesting Obama’s visit and his backing of the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline. The group is concerned about the pipeline route over Native American burial grounds. From a press release in my inbox this morning from the Edmond-based Center for Energy Matters:
“The Ogallala Aquifer is not the only source of water in the plains,” said RoseMary Crawford, Project Manager of the Center for Energy Matters. “Tar sands pipelines have a terrible safety record and leaks are inevitable.”
“We can’t stop global warming with more fossil fuel pipelines,” added Crawford. “The people who voted for this President did so believing he would help us address the global environmental catastrophe that our pollution is creating. He said he would free us from ‘the tyranny of oil.’ Today that campaign promise is being trampled to boost the President’s poll numbers.”
U.S. Rep. John Sullivan, R-Tulsa, was on Fox & Friends this morning talking about the president’s visit. Sullivan is vice-chairman of the Energy and Power subcommittee of the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee.
“This is nothing more than a con job,” Sullivan said of Obama’s visit, which he called a photo-op.
As expected, the president isn’t getting much love from Oklahoma’s elected officials. Even Dr. Tom Coburn, his friend from the Senate, weighed in this morning, calling Obama’s energy policy “all hat and no cattle.”
“In word and deed, this administration has consistently expressed an illogical and ideological hostility to oil and gas. President Obama has even called oil the ‘fuel of the past’ even though government experts recognize our nation will rely on fossil fuels for nearly 70 percent of our energy needs through 2035. For better or worse, oil and gas are the fuel of the present. Oklahomans, in particular, understand that the Cushing facility is part of our future, not our past.”
This morning, we’ll be live-blogging the second leg of President Obama’s energy tour.
A few quick links to get started from this morning’s edition of The Oklahoman:
- The president arrived at Tinker Air Force Base last night, just after 9:30 p.m. Unfortunately, he missed the Thunder’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Capitol Reporter Michael McNutt has details on the president’s arrival here.
- Obama is expected to announce a fast-track regulatory approval of the Gulf Coast section of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline at Cushing, weather permitting. Chris Casteel reports from Washington.
- A few protesters were out yesterday in downtown Oklahoma City, protesting the Keystone XL pipeline and the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.
- Energy Editor Adam Wilmoth talked to Cushing residents earlier this week about the president’s visit.
Meanwhile, Adam Wilmoth is in Cushing this morning. Obama is expected to fly by helicopter from Oklahoma City to Cushing. Here’s the latest from Wilmoth:
It’s still misting and sprinkling off and on, but the White House has decided to keep the speech here near Cushing as planned. They had discussed a backup location if the visibility were too poor for the President’s helicopter.
The lecturn and stage are set up, but covered in plastic to keep out the rain.