Oklahomans are looking forward to President Barack Obama’s visit to the state today—his first since campaigning for the office four years ago. The stop in Oklahoma is one of four he’s making to tout his energy policies, and, according to Politico, perhaps the most important.
“Obama will travel to three presidential battleground states — Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio — to defend his record amid high gas prices. But his trek to the decidedly red state of Oklahoma may be the most crucial,” Darren Goode wrote on Monday. “Obama on Thursday will give remarks at a storage yard holding pipes that will be used for the construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline — which would be used to free a surplus of U.S. oil stored in Cushing, Okla., down to Texas refineries.”
Obama arrives Wednesday night, speaks Thursday morning, and leaves the state mid-afternoon on Thursday. The event is by invitation only; it isn’t open to the public but is open to pre-credentialed media.
The Wall Street Journal reported that, on his four-state trek, “Mr. Obama will focus on his support for an ‘all of the above’ energy policy,” the same policy he’s talked up before, repeating it again because “many Americans have not yet heard his message.“ According to WSJ, the president will “argue yet again that he’s not against oil drilling, no matter what Republicans repeatedly say.”
Oklahoma Republicans certainly have something to say about his policies—and his visit. U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., released a statement late last week, saying:
When President Obama visits Oklahoma in preparation for a new pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf, we hope that he will learn a thing or two about the benefits of using our own domestic oil and gas resources, especially as gas prices continue to skyrocket. Unfortunately, we know his visit is little more than a campaign stop in an attempt to put a favorable spin on his dismal energy record, because current gas prices threaten his job.
America has more domestic recoverable resources of oil, gas and coal than any country in the world, and developing these resources is the best way to revive our economy while bringing down prices at the pump. Yet, President Obama continues to wage an all-out attack on American fossil fuel development in his war on affordable energy. He keeps saying that oil and natural gas are the fuels of the past, but he is wrong.
Oklahomans know they are very much the fuels of the present and the foreseeable future. The sooner he realizes this, the better.
And, according to USA Today, “Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okl., said he wants to hear Obama ‘explain to Oklahomans why he rejected the Keystone XL pipeline and turned his back on using the oil and gas resources in our own backyard instead of spending $1 billion per day for OPEC oil.’
“Connecting Cushing to oil markets in Canada and the Bakken shale play in North Dakota, is vital to our long term energy needs, not to mention it would create 20,000 private sector jobs here in Oklahoma and across the country,” Sullivan said.
“Mr. Obama rejected the Keystone application earlier this year,” WSJ reported, “saying the company had not yet proposed a route that avoided the sensitive Sandhills region in Nebraska. The administration had wanted to put the decision off until after the election, but Republicans forced him to make an earlier decision by including the mandate in an unrelated bill.”
Still, the White House has been supportive of TransCanada’s Oklahoma-to-Texas pipeline, with Press Secretary Jim Carney saying, in a statement, “Moving oil from the Midwest to the world-class, state-of-the-art refineries on the Gulf Coast will modernize our infrastructure, create jobs, and encourage American energy production.”
And, as Tulsa’s News on 6 reported, Cushing residents, regardless of their political leanings, are excited about the president’s visit. “How many communities of 8,000 plus can actually say they’ve had the president of the United States in their community?” Brent Thompson, executive director of the Cushing Chamber of Commerce, told the station.
—Holly Wall, News Editor