|Obama gives a little on the Keystone XL pipeline, but there is no peace in pipeline politics.|
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- If anyone was looking for an Etch A Sketch moment from President Obama when he spoke on energy policy with the pipes of the Cushing, Okla. oil hub as a backdrop on Thursday, that was a pipe dream. Obama sketched in some more details about his energy policy, but the energy policy rhetoric has no reset button, merely gradations of already entrenched positions staked out by the special interests that Obama's speech seemed designed to placate. Expect no Etch A Sketch moments to be forthcoming in this election year as Republicans continue to blame Obama for high gas prices and Obama pushes ahead with his all-of-the-above energy plan for the future, encompassing natural gas as a bridge fuel, a variety of clean energy technologies, nuclear, infrastructure improvements and the smart grid, to name just a few of the major items on Obama's energy policy check list.
The actual "news" in the President's speech regarded an expedited bureaucratic process for approval of the southernmost extension of the Keystone XL pipeline, the Cushing-to-Gulf Coast route, cutting through the "red tape," the president said. Yet
highlighting a tweak to federal energy bureaucracy for the least contentious part of the pipeline is not likely to captivate the general public nor shift the special interest debate. Obama repeated some White House talking points about domestic oil production being up during his administration more so than during previous administrations: "Anyone who says that we're somehow suppressing domestic oil production isn't paying attention," Obama said. Yet anyone who has been paying attention to the political battle has heard this talking point many times before from the White House. It's a fact, yet a fact complicated by the fact that the U.S. oil and gas production number would have hit a historic high regardless of who was in the White House, given the timing of the shale drilling boom. Obama staked out his usual pragmatic middle ground, offering up the southernmost extension of the Keystone pipeline as an example that he is not standing in the way of oil and gas production and refining, yet also cautioning against rushing through the permitting and review of projects that can have serious environmental, safety and human health consequences. As had been noted widely in the press in the days leading up to the president's Cushing appearance, neither supporters or Obama critics were going to be placated by the speech. Republican House leader John Boehner (R., Ohio) said the expedited process for a pipeline project already slated to start in June was like taking credit for renewing a driver's license.