VP Joe Biden (at Buzzfeed) and former VP Al Gore (at Price of Oil) have both recently opposed KXL, TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. Biden’s comment was to a Sierra Club member on a ropeline in South Carolina. His office quickly said his position really hasn’t changed, and he awaits the results of the State Department study. But it was picked up by the Sierra Club and others opposing KXL and similar pipelines.
Al Gore, meanwhile, has recently made several comments in opposition to KXL, and is doing so in Canada. From Andy Rowell at Price of Oil:
(Gore) … is certainly winding the Canadians up into a right old rage.
Yesterday I blogged how he had called the tar sands to an ‘open sewer’.
Gore then went on to give a public interview with The Globe and Mail. In the interview Gore said he wished that President Barack Obama would cancel the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
He did say that he “still hold(s) out hope” that Obama will be “positively surprising” regarding relevant “policy initiatives.”
He also dismissed the Canadian’s long-term public relations campaign to dress up the dirty tar sands as somehow being ‘ethical oil’ compared to oil from the Middle East.
‘There’s no such thing as ethical oil,’ he said. ‘There’s only dirty oil and dirtier oil.’
About Biden, from Ruby Cramer at Buzzfeed:
After Elaine Cooper, a South Carolina Democrat and member of the state’s Sierra Club chapter, said Biden told her he opposed the Keystone XL pipeline, national climate change organizations seized on the account … as a sign Biden could help push the Obama administration to reject the project over potential environmental impacts. …
‘He went off-message with the same-sex marriage debate, and forced the administration to question its response,’ said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth … . ‘I’m looking at this as the vice president really having his thumb on what the administration should be doing environmentally.’
While acknowledging the difference between Biden’s Meet the Press comments regarding marriage equality, and the comment on a ropeline, activists continue to use the comment. For example, via EcoWatch:
Residents of Mayflower, AR who were victims of Exxon’s Good Friday tar sands spill that coated their neighborhood in toxic tar sands traveled to DC to hand-deliver a letter to Secretary Kerry asking that he reject Keystone XL. The members of the Remember Mayflower Coalition stood in front of the State Department to appeal to Secretary Kerry, urging him to consider the recent spill … and listen to the Vice President’s opinion on the pipeline as he makes his final analysis of Keystone XL.
Like another coalition, Bold Nebraska, whose members are opposing the construction of the northern section of KXL, Remember Mayflower (which is joining the ‘All Risk, No Reward’ Coalition to stop Keystone XL) invited Obama and Kerry for a visit. From the Mayflower, May 9 letter to Kerry:
We are working with elected officials to move Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline away from the Lake Maumelle watershed, which provides drinking water for hundreds of thousands of Arkansans. …
But the people of Nebraska aren’t as lucky. The Ogallala Aquifer provides irrigation and drinking water for millions of Americans in Nebraska and across the country, and their water is at risk if Keystone XL is constructed. …
Before you issue your final evaluation of Keystone XL, we ask that you and your staff come to Mayflower to see what happens when a tar sands pipeline ruptures in your backyard.
That “backyard” thing shows up in different ways. Here, we see people of Arkansas and Nebraska highlighting something that, for another example, the Tar Sands Blockade in East Texas, recognizes: for effective advocacy and out of basic fairness, “not in my backyard” has to be replaced with “not in anyone’s backyard.”
Arkansas Rep. Tim Griffin (R) clearly doesn’t share that idea. From Inside Climate News, Lisa Song writes:
… Griffin, a staunch supporter of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, recently asked ExxonMobil to move another, smaller oil pipeline away from a major water source in his home state of Arkansas.
It’s a contradiction that grates on opponents of the Keystone, which would run through a critically important aquifer that supplies irrigation and drinking water to Nebraska and seven other states. …
Author and environmental activist Bill McKibben had a … succinct response to Griffin’s position: ‘Always nice when people are willing to let others run risks they’d prefer to spurn.’
Five days (after the Mayflower spill) … , Rep. Griffin wrote a letter to ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson … .
‘… Currently, the Pegasus Pipeline runs through about 13 miles of the Lake Maumelle watershed and also crosses some of the lake’s tributaries…I urge ExxonMobil … to provide an effective plan to relocate the pipeline.’
But he maintains his support for KXL.
On his official website, he calls for the approval of the Keystone, saying it’s ‘one of the biggest no-brainers I have seen since being elected to Congress. The pipeline would provide a big dose of shovel-ready jobs and energy independence–now.’
Griffin’s “some backyards are more important than others” position is one of political expediency, and convenience. And that’s similar to, in my opinion, pointing with pride to 2012 Candidate Obama ordering additional study of the northern KXL section, while expediting the construction of the southern.
By the way, EcoWatch has the latest “recap” of KXL news, including:
This month’s Risk Analysis magazine found that there is a significant risk of oil spills at inland locations that threaten lakes, streams, and rivers. This study is particularly relevant as Nebraska and other inland states determine the environmental impact of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
And related to the claims by Rep. Griffin, popular and frequently repeated by proponents of KXL and other pipelines, there’s this:
In an AARP interview, President Obama states that Keystone XL is an export pipeline that will not reduce U.S. gas prices and acknowledges that the best way to keep gas prices low is to reduce demand. From the President: ‘they want to build a pipeline to pump from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, where they can then export that oil all around the world. It’s not going to make a dent in gas prices here in the United States.’
Well then, I hope when Mr. Obama finally makes the KXL northern section decision, he listens not only to the many advocates against such, and not only to Biden and Gore, but to himself. At least he’s got the “it won’t make a dent in gas prices” in the U.S. right. I’m not sure about the just as false claims regarding all the long-term jobs it will produce. And I’m really not sure about his take on all those backyards along the pipeline paths, both those with KXL already built, and those hoping it won’t happen to them.