OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Republicans rain on Obama’s Keystone parade

White House press secretary Jay Carney dismissed Republicans’ criticisms, arguing that the president’s decision to expedite the pipeline segment will ensure it doesn’t get bogged down in “unnecessary bureaucratic delay.”

“I understand that the president’s critics want to make a political point, having been deprived by the facts and the visuals of this visit — which demonstrated the president’s commitment to both increasing oil and gas production in this country and doing everything he can to open up bottlenecks in the supply chain for oil-and-gas production — to find some other reason to criticize him,” Carney told reporters Thursday afternoon aboard Air Force One.

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“The fact of the matter is, even the southern portion of this pipeline requires federal permitting. The actions the president took today will ensure that that process is — moves as quickly as possible as a matter of — as a national priority. So, yes, we believe it will have an impact, and certainly at the very least it ensures that there will not be any unnecessary bureaucratic delay.”

Carney said the administration will ensure that TransCanada is able to begin construction in June, as scheduled.

He added that the administration will begin reviewing the rest of the Keystone pipeline once TransCanada re-files its application for a cross-border permit.

“When a renewed pipeline proposal is put forward, it would be absolutely viewed on the merits,” Carney said. “And the process should be allowed to work as it’s supposed to work, and it should not be hijacked for ideological or other political reasons.”

Obama rejected the cross-border permit in January, drawing the ire of Republicans. But the president said the decision was based not on the merits, but on a GOP-backed 60-day timeline included in broad legislation to extend the payroll tax cut.


NEWS BITES:

Thune: Oil tax vote shows Dems are ‘desperate’

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said the upcoming vote on Democratic plans to nix oil industry tax breaks is a sign that they’re losing ground in the battles over gasoline prices.

“I would be surprised if they have success with that, but I know they are desperate to find something to use as a distraction to shift the blame away from where it clearly should be, and that is on policies that have not permitted and enabled additional energy production,” Thune, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, told reporters Thursday in the Capitol.

The Senate will vote Monday on the plan, which lacks 60 votes but represents a Democratic effort to force Republicans into a politically tricky spot by casting them as industry defenders at a time of high prices and profits.

Click here and here for more on the latest effort to nix billions of dollars in tax incentives for the petroleum industry.

Sanders pushes Obama on Keystone pipeline


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) remains hopeful that President Obama will reject the cross-border Keystone XL pipeline to bring Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries, even though Obama is pledging to expedite the Oklahoma-to-Texas portion of the project that would carry U.S. oil (see “State of Play” above for more about that).

“For the future of the planet, we must break our dependency on fossil fuel and move to sustainable energy, and the Keystone pipeline just weds us to fossil fuels and a particularly dirty form of fossil fuel for years to come,” Sanders said Thursday in the Capitol.

“I hope the president will do what he can to defeat it.” 

Sanders pointed out that temperatures smashed records by hitting 80 degrees in Vermont this week, among a number of U.S. temperature records falling of late.

“I think global warming is absolutely real,” he said. “One of the outrageous aspects that goes on in Congress now is the degree to which we choose to ignore it.”


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT ...

Here’s a quick roundup of Thursday’s E2 stories:

— Obama closes tour with swing-state green energy pitch
— Obama heckled during energy speech in Ohio
— Senate to vote on bill killing oil tax breaks
— Boehner not impressed by Obama’s push for southern part of Keystone pipeline
— EPA chief: No date yet for power plant carbon rules
— Obama says he’s added pipeline ‘to encircle Earth and then some’ 
— Romney in 2006 said high gas prices were ‘probably here to stay’
— Obama: Solyndra layoffs ‘heartbreaking’
— Poll: Majority favor Keystone XL pipeline
— Out on tour: Obama changes the backdrop to push his energy message
— Obama vows to drill ‘everywhere we can’

Please send tips and comments to Ben Geman, ben.geman@thehill.com, and Andrew Restuccia, arestuccia@thehill.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @E2Wire, @AndrewRestuccia, @Ben_Geman

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