The PJ Tatler

Obama on the XL: Cut it in Half and I'll Support It

Who does he think he is, King Solomon?

President Barack Obama will send a memo to federal agencies on Thursday directing them to prioritize permitting for TransCanada’s southern leg of the Keystone oil pipeline, a senior White House official said on Wednesday.

Facing a barrage of Republican criticism over high gasoline prices during the election year, Obama will visit Cushing, Oklahoma, on Thursday to promote his energy policies, which include support for the southern leg of the pipeline.

The pipeline would drain a glut of crude in Cushing, the storage hub for U.S. crude oil traded on the futures market, easing deliveries to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

As always with the theoretical president, there may be a hitch in the half plan:

The memo to the agencies builds on an executive order Obama first announced during the State of the Union address in January to speed up and improve federal permits and reviews of infrastructure projects.

But TransCanada has not yet applied to build the southern leg, so it remains uncertain exactly which agencies would need to grant permits. Fish and Wildlife, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are some that would almost certainly would have to sign off.

TransCanada will also need permits from Oklahoma and Texas, which could slow the process.