From one Nobel Peace Prize winner to another, this whole Keystone XL thing is an “atrocity.”
Al Gore has been calling on Barack Obama to step up the fight against climate change and Keystone, most recently during an interview with The Guardian:
The former vice-president said in an interview on Friday that he hoped Obama would follow the example of British Columbia, which last week rejected a similar pipeline project, and shut down the Keystone XL.
“I certainly hope that he will veto that now that the Canadians have publicly concluded that it is not safe to take a pipeline across British Columbia to ports on the Pacific,” he told the Guardian. “I really can’t imagine that our country would say: ‘Oh well. Take it right over parts of the Ogallala aquifer’, our largest and most important source of ground water in the US. It’s really a losing proposition.” …
“This whole project [Keystone XL] is an atrocity but it is even more important for him to regulate carbon dioxide emissions,” Gore said. He urged Obama to use his powers as president to cut carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants — the biggest [single] source of global warming pollution.
“He doesn’t need Congress to do anything,” Gore said. “If it hurts the feelings of people in the carbon polluting industries that’s too bad.”
A few days previous, the former veep made another call for Obama to take action. “I hope that he’ll get moving on to follow up on the wonderful pledges he made in his inaugural speech earlier this year and then soon after in his State of the Union,” Gore said during a Google+ video chat last week, Politico reported. “Great words. We need great actions now.”
Gore joins a growing number of Democrats and activists who have been voicing their frustrations with Obama over the president’s failure to match his strong climate rhetoric with strong climate action. Last week, a group of Democratic senators sent the president a letter urging him to get going. From The Hill:
Five senators from New Jersey, New York and Connecticut sent a letter Thursday to President Obama saying the “superstorm” that tore through the Northeast last year “brought home the increasing costs of global warming for millions of Americans.” …
The letter urges Obama to impose emissions standards on the nation’s existing power plants, which is a top priority for climate change activists.
It seems the president is preparing a response to the growing tide of cries for action. From Bloomberg:
With his administration under pressure from environmentalists to reject the Keystone XL pipeline project, President Barack Obama plans to unveil a package of separate actions next month focused on curbing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
At closed-door fundraisers held over the past few weeks, the president has been telling Democratic party donors that he will unveil new climate proposals in July, according to people who have attended the events or been briefed.
Obama’s promise frequently comes in response to pleas from donors to reject TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL project, a $5.3 billion pipeline that would carry tar-sands oil from Canada to U.S. refineries. Opponents of the pipeline say it would increase greenhouse-gas emissions by encouraging use of the tar sands.
While Obama has not detailed the specifics of his plan to the donors, pipeline opponents anticipate the package will include final rules from the Environmental Protection Agency to limit greenhouse-gas emissions from new power plants.
One big question is whether Obama’s new climate action plan will be linked to approval of Keystone XL, an attempt to mollify both sides. That wouldn’t work. As climate organizer (and Grist board member) Bill McKibben said earlier this year, “Given that the Arctic melted last summer, we’re not really in a place where we get to try and ‘please both sides’ anymore.”