President Obama defends Keystone XL pipeline move

CUSHING, Okla. (KTRE/AP) - President Barack Obama is defending his administration's handling of the contentious Keystone XL pipeline, saying Congress made it impossible for him to make an informed decision.

Obama says experts needed a certain amount of time to review the Keystone project, which would have run from Canada to Texas. But he says Congress wanted to make its own timeline based on politics, which forced him to reject the project. He spoke Thursday at the site of another pipeline that would run from Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf Coast. He's telling federal agencies to speed-up approval of that pipeline.

Canadian proponents of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline are applauding U.S. President Barack Obama's directive to expedite the approval process for the southern leg of the pipeline to Texas. But they're also urging the president to approve the northern leg from Alberta.

Obama directed federal agencies to expedite a 485-mile line from Oklahoma to refineries on Texas' Gulf Coast that would remove a critical bottleneck in the U.S. oil transportation system. It's a segment of the larger Keystone XL project that Obama rejected earlier this year, saying Republicans were rushing the environmental review process.

Dave Collyer, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, says while Obama's order is a step in the right direction, the southern leg of the pipeline doesn't help move incremental volume out of Canada. Much of the heavy crude mined from Alberta's oil sands has been shipped by rail.

Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., Thursday renewed its call for the President and relevant agencies to treat the TransCanada pipeline project as a tar sands pipeline. "As construction has not yet begun, it would be imprudent to build the pipeline when we anticipate new findings from a congressionally mandated study on the unique dangers of tar sands pipelines, which may inform new regulations for this industry," stated the group in a news release.

"President Obama tells us he is green, but from my perspective his announcement today shows he's anything but.   Where I come from you're only as good as your word, and I am proud to stand by my principles no matter the pressure that's applied.  And there's no doubt about it, TransCanada's applying pressure anywhere they can, from Washington D.C. to small towns along the proposed pipeline route, and not everyone can hold up," said Julia Trigg Crawford, a Texas farmer who is challenging TransCanada's use of eminent domain to take an easement across her property for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, in a statement released in response to the President's speech.

Copyright 2012 KTRE.  Some information from AP was used for this story.  All Rights Reserved.