Obama playing golf closer to home

Obama playing golf closer to home.

When some 35,000 protestors descended on Washington, D.C., on Sunday, they hoped to send a message to President Obama: Kill the Keystone XL pipeline. Show real leadership on the climate. From the Mall up to the White House they marched, hoping that Obama would see the crowd and read the signs and be moved.

But Obama wasn’t there to see the crowd. He wasn’t in the White House. He was in Florida, playing a round of golf with two directors of Western Gas Holdings, a subsidiary of Anadarko Petroleum focused on natural gas fracking. From the Huffington Post, which broke the story:

Obama has not shied away from supporting domestic drilling, especially for relatively clean natural gas, but in his most recent State of the Union speech he stressed the urgency of addressing climate change by weaning the country and the world from dependence on carbon-based fuels. …

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But on his first “guys weekend” away since he was reelected, the president chose to spend his free time with Jim Crane and Milton Carroll, leading figures in the Texas oil and gas industry, along with other men who run companies that deal in the same kinds of carbon-based services that Keystone would enlarge. They hit the links at the Floridian Yacht and Golf Club, which is owned by Crane and located on the Treasure Coast in Palm City, Fla.

Not only are Crane and Carroll with Wester Gas Holdings, Carroll is also the chair of CenterPoint Energy, which provides residential and commercial electricity and natural gas — and which just today announced it is accepting bids for proposals to transport its oil out of the North Dakota Bakken region.

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When news of Obama’s golf partners broke, environmental organizations responded as you might expect. Public Citizen’s Tyson Slocum: “It’s clear that folks in the oil industry have access to the president.” The Sierra Club’s resident law-breaker Michael Brune: “There’s an old adage that you’re only as good as the company you keep” — though Brune remains optimistic.

A bit of good news for those activists whose rallying cries probably didn’t carry the 950 miles from D.C. to Palm City: If I know anything about golf, the president and his oil industry executive friends weren’t talking during their entire round. Even if they pled their case for expanded drilling, Obama didn’t hear them, either. If I know anything about golf, that is. Which I don’t.