What a difference two months of record high gas prices make. After Obama unceremoniously killed the Keystone XL pipeline proposal in January, and has since seen his popularity rating slide in inverse proportion to the surge in gas prices, which as noted yesterday have now passed $4 (still quite a bit better than Europe's $9.81 average/gallon), he is now actively seeking to fast-track its approval. Or at least half of it. Per Reuters: "President Barack Obama will issue a memo on Thursday directing federal agencies to prioritize permitting of TransCanada's southern leg of the Keystone oil pipeline, a senior White House official said on Wednesday. With his Republican opponents hammering away at the president over high gasoline prices, Obama will visit Cushing, Oklahoma on Thursday to promote his energy policies, which include support for the southern leg of the pipeline."
It gets funnier:
But TransCanada has not yet applied to build the southern leg, so it remains uncertain exactly which agencies would need to grant permits. Fish and Wildlife, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are some that would almost certainly would have to sign off.
TransCanada will also need permits from Oklahoma and Texas which could slow the process.
The memo "directs federal agencies to name the Cushing pipeline as a top priority of the new executive orders' expedited permitting process," the official told reporters in a conference call. The memo will also push the agencies to prioritize other oil pipelines that would relieve bottlenecks getting petroleum to market
So let's get this straight: Obama is seeking to fast-track an "application" which has not "applied", and even if he does approve it, at least three other agencies' palms will have to be greased. In the meantime, nobody knows what happens with the other half.
In the meantime, while nothing at all is certain to get done for years to alleviate the Cushing Congestion, the environmentalist have finally realized they too were just Corzined:
Environmentalists are crestfallen. They've mounted a massive campaign against Keystone XL, assailing the plan to transport millions of barrels a week of bitumen from the Alberta oilsands — an energy source they decry as "dirty oil" — through six U.S. states to Texas refineries.
"The administration cannot purport to protect the climate while simultaneously bending over backward to allow a pipeline to the continent's biggest carbon bomb," Kim Huynh of Friends of the Earth said in a statement.
Huynh wondered if environmentalists have been snookered.
"Was the president's initial rejection of the Keystone XL simply a farce to temporarily appease the environmental voters who dared to hold him to his own promises about real leadership on the climate and shifting to 21st-century clean energy solutions? It would seem so."
Bill McKibben, who spearheaded several White House anti-pipeline protests last summer, noted that some had suggested Obama rejected
Keystone XL for purely political purposes.
Then again this is all in a day's work for the man who has just succeeded in bringing YTD debt issuance to a record $122 billion over net tax refunds as of today.