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President Obama vowed on Thursday to speed the approval process for the southern portion of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, a decision he touted as part of an "all of the above" energy strategy and one that comes as conservatives increasingly blame his administration for rising gas prices.
The New York Times reports Obama, flanked by pieces of pipeline in Oklahoma, told a small crowd that the administration also plans to review future permits from TransCanada, the company behind the proposed pipeline, after rejecting the plan in January over environmental concerns. A GOP-led effort in the Senate to force action on the pipeline failed earlier this month.
Bloomberg explains that Obama’s apparent concession may not actually speed the permit process, which is nearly complete for that part of the pipeline, and Republicans wasted little time accusing the president of looking to score political points in an election year.
House Speaker John Boehner said that Obama was "trying to take credit for part of the pipeline that doesn’t even require his approval," and later compared Thursday's announced to a "governor holding a press conference to renew my driver’s license."
The proposed $7 billion pipeline would bring Canadian oil sands across the border and down to Gulf Coast refineries, a prospect that has led to strong push-back from environmental groups and some local governments. Republicans and their like-minded allies, meanwhile, say Obama's failure to sign off on the project is proof that he is putting his liberal agenda above job creation.