Facing Political Pressure, Obama Fast Tracks Partial Keystone XL Pipeline Approval

Following several weeks of falling poll numbers and accusations that his administration is not doing enough to lower oil prices, President Obama announced today that he will call for an expedited permitting process for the southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline.

This announcement appears to be a reversal of Obama’s previous decision to reject approval of the pipeline.

Obama has been plagued by conservative claims that he is purposefully not doing enough to allow an increase in domestic oil supplies.  The administration has tried to argue that domestic production is at an all time-high, but it has failed to note that the production on federal lands and waters has actually decreased this year.

Recent polls have shown Americans don’t believe the Administration was doing everything it could.  This view could partially be the result of previous comments from the president and members of his administration supporting higher gas prices in order to reduce dependency.

There is a good chance President Obama’s call for a faster permit process will not actually accelerate the pipeline construction.  A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh.) reacted to the news by saying the president’s attempt to take credit for a “pipeline he blocked and personally lobbied Congress against is staggering in its disingenuousness.”

While the Obama Administration hopes that today’s action will be seen as a sincere attempt to help with energy prices, it is likely that many will see it as solely a politically expedient attempt to deflect blame for higher gas prices.