By Martin Gould and John Bachman
President Barack Obama's praise for the decision to build part of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is "like the rooster taking credit for the dawn," Republican Rep. Lee Terry tells Newsmax.TV.
"Neither the federal government nor the White House had any say in whether that could go forward," said the seven-term Nebraska Republican.
"But the fact that he applauded it showed maybe he is regretting his poor decision to kill the pipeline," Terry said during the exclusive interview with Newsmax.
TransCanada, the company behind Keystone, announced this week that it was going ahead with building a pipe from Cushing, Okla., to Port Arthur, Texas. This 485-mile section does not require State Department or White House approval because it does not cross an international border.
"I like the idea of them doing that and it's not unexpected," Terry said. "They said that was their Plan B: If the president denied their permit, they'd go ahead with the intrastate projects like Cushing to Port Arthur because it doesn't require any federal oversight at least from the White House so they can go ahead. That's all at the state levels with water permits from Corps of Engineers, so I was pleased with this."
Obama blocked plans for building the entire pipeline, which would start in Hardisty, Alberta, and cross the border into Montana and pass through South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas before arriving at Cushing. Environmental concerns in Terry's state were the main reason.
Terry, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is a fervent supporter of the pipeline and has proposed legislation to take the decision away from the president and hand it to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He said that would mean experts would be making the decision, "getting it out of the White House and election year politics."
Terry said he believes that Obama is even less likely to approve the pipeline if he wins November's election, as he will consult the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which has opposed the plan. "If the president isn't up for reelection, unaccountable to the voters, he is more likely to follow the recommendations of the NRDC," the congressman argued.
The pipeline would knock a few cents off the price of a gallon of gas, Terry said, adding that, more importantly it would give the United States energy independence.
"Most of the value comes in security," he said. "We don't have to worry about whether Iran closes the Strait of Hormuz or that we are sending money to Venezuela so they can buy weapons from Russia to bully their neighbors and threaten the U.S.
"As I pull up to the pump and pay $3.59 in Omaha, what I get upset with is that we're not using the resources that are available to us in the United States," Terry said. "There is a lot of oil that we can access.
" I don't want to sound like I'm only dogging the president here, but the reality is when he says he has opened places [for drilling], they are places that have already been opened but his own agencies are really slow-walking any new development. If we can use our main resources and expand supply we won't see these spikes [in price] as dramatically as we do."