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    Obama Supports Keystone XL Project on a Smaller Scale

    President endorses southern leg of the project, a 500-mile stretch from Cushing, Okla., to Port Arthur, Texas.

    CUSHING, Okla. -- As part of an effort to counteract rising gas prices, President Obama is supporting a plan to fast-track approval of the southern portion of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would run from Cushing, Okla., to Port Arthur, Texas.

    "Right now, a company called TransCanada has applied to build a pipeline to speed more oil from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down the Gulf Coast," Obama said yesterday, as reported by The Christian Science Monitor. "Today, I'm directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles and make this priority; to go ahead and get it done."

    In January, Obama rejected TransCanada Corp.'s original application to build a pipeline from the Canadian Oil Sands to the Gulf of Mexico. He cited several reasons for the rejection, including energy security and environmental impacts.

    In addition, two weeks ago, the U.S. Senate also could not garner enough votes to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline project. As CSNews Online reported, the Hoeven Amendment to the S. 1813 Highway Transportation Bill would have overturned Obama's Jan. 18 decision via the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. However,

    Republicans heavily criticized Obama when he rejected the original Keystone XL project, citing the lack of job creation and saying that he wasn't doing enough to alleviate rising gas prices.

    According to The Christian Science Monitor, Obama's backing of the 500-mile southern leg is also receiving criticism.

    "Simply put, the southern portion of Keystone -- from Cushing, Okla., to the Gulf Coast -- is being built in spite of the Obama Administration, not because of them," Oklahoma Republican Rep. John Sullivan said in a statement.

    However, Mike Wagner, political scientist at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, told the news outlet that the Keystone XL project has become a game of political football being conducted by both parties.

    "The GOP has tried hard to tie high gas prices and a sluggish economy to the president's decision to delay [the] Keystone XL pipeline," Wagner said. "He's following a textbook campaign strategy. If the president endorses the southern section, it could blunt Republican criticism of him on that issue, at least among independent voters."

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