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Obama Defends Keystone Pipeline Choices

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- President Obama defended on Thursday his administration's handling of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Speaking in front of large blue-green pipelines to a crowd in Cushing, Okla., the president placed blame on Congress and said it tried to push him into a decision too quickly.

"Producing more oil and gas here at home has been, and will continue to be, a critical part of our all-of-the-above strategy," Obama said Thursday.

The president has said that he will expedite the review process of the southern part of TransCanada's (TRP - Get Report) Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from Alberta, Canada, into the United States. Cushing would be one U.S. destination of the crude oil.

Republicans have criticized the president's move to delay a decision on the pipeline.

"Yes, in Cushing, Oklahoma, President Obama will strain all credibility by declaring his unwavering support for a private-sector project that he's single-handedly prevented from being completed. His support for part of it, anyway," a blog post said Thursday on House Speaker John Boehner's Web site.

>>Why Obama's Cushing Pipeline Push Won't Excite Voters

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich slammed Obama this week over his refusal to approve the pipeline as the Republican presidential hopefuls continued to try to win conservative support on the issue.

"Now, you wouldn't know it from listening to some of these folks who are running for office -- I won't mention their names, you know who they are -- but producing more oil here in our own country has been, and will continue to be, a key part of my energy strategy," Obama said Wednesday in Maljamar, N.M., a day ahead of his speech in Cushing.

TransCanada has said it expects to put the pipeline in service by 2015. Despite Obama's delay, the company has said it anticipates its Presidential Permit application will be approved in the first quarter of 2013.

As for the Cushing extention, TransCanada began operations there in February 2011. Construction is expected to resume there in June.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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