President Obama earned a double-barreled rebuke Monday from The Washington Post’s fact-checker, for repeating a faulty claim that the Keystone XL pipeline “bypasses” the U.S. — and for saying it would only carry “Canadian oil.”
The president made the claims in an interview last week with WDAY of Fargo, N.D. Obama continued to downplay the impact of the Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, just days after vetoing a bipartisan-backed bill that would approve the construction project. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has teed up a vote to override that veto later this week.
In the local interview, Obama said:
“I’ve already said I’m happy to look at how we can increase pipeline production for U.S. oil, but Keystone is for Canadian oil to send that down to the Gulf. It bypasses the United States and is estimated to create a little over 250, maybe 300 permanent jobs. We should be focusing more broadly on American infrastructure for American jobs and American producers, and that’s something that we very much support.”
The president has been called out before for claiming the oil would bypass the U.S.
Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler explained Monday that while the crude oil would travel to the Gulf Coast, it would then be refined into products like gasoline — and much of it certainly would be used in the U.S.
“Current trends suggest that only about half of that refined product would be exported, and it could easily be lower,” Kessler said.
He cited a February report by energy industry consultant IHS Energy, which predicted most of the refined products would likely be “consumed in the United States.”
Further, even the State Department issued a report downplaying the notion that a large amount of that crude would be exported, since foreign refiners would have to shoulder additional transportation charges.
Kessler said with his recent comments, Obama “appears to be purposely ignoring the findings of the lead Cabinet agency on the issue.”
Further, he challenged Obama’s claim that Keystone would just be for Canadian oil, since producers in North Dakota and Montana want to move oil from the Bakken area through it.
Kessler gave Obama “four Pinocchios” for his comments — the worst rating on his fact-check scale.
“If he disagrees with the State Department’s findings, he should begin to make the case why it is wrong, rather than assert the opposite, without any factual basis,” Kessler wrote. “Moreover, by telling North Dakota listeners that the pipeline has no benefit for Americans, he is again being misleading, given that producers in the region have signed contracts to transport some of their production through the pipeline.”
McConnell is aiming for a final vote on the Keystone veto override on Wednesday, with a procedural vote set for Tuesday. So far, supporters of the pipeline have not demonstrated they have the necessary two-thirds majority in Congress to override.
Obama, in opposing that bill, has argued the State Department needs to be allowed to finish its official review of the pipeline.