Al Gore: Keystone XL is an ‘atrocity’

WASHINGTON — In a rousing speech Thursday that included a Steve Martin impression and more than a couple colorful analogies, former Vice President Al Gore insisted that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is an “atrocity” that must be rejected.

Speaking to a summit in Washington D.C. by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, Gore suggested that the decision on whether to permit the cross-border pipeline tests President Barack Obama’s climate change legacy.

“I hope, as he gets down to the lick-log and the decision on this XL pipeline, that he really understands very clearly what is at stake here,” Gore said. “This should be vetoed. It is an atrocity — a threat to our future.”

Former adviser: Obama will reject Keystone XL pipeline

TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil sands crude harvested in Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast. The State Department is reviewing whether the proposed pipeline is in the national interest, with a final decision expected no sooner than next year. But if other executive agencies disagree, the final decision would end up in Obama’s hands.

Because the oil in Canada’s oil sands — a sticky, viscous hydrocarbon known as bitumen — generally is extracted through particularly energy-intensive methods, environmentalists say it produces more carbon dioxide emissions over its life span, from production to combustion. Gore cast it as a part of a portfolio of “subprime carbon assets” the U.S. keeps tapping.

Obama vowed that his administration would only approve the multibillion-dollar pipeline “if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”

Junkies and alcoholics

Gore likened the U.S. hunger for oil — and the appetite for Canada’s bitumen — as a junkie in need of a fix.

“Junkies find veins in their toes when the ones in their arms and legs give out,” he said. “We are now at the point where we are going after these ridiculously dirty and dangerous . . . fossil fuels.”

Executives to Obama: Rejecting pipeline would threaten economy

Gore revved up the crowd with an impression of Steve Martin’s “Wild and Crazy Guys” character on Saturday Night Live and other colorful metaphors, including a portrayal of climate change skeptics on Capitol Hill as the family alcoholic everyone tiptoes around.

Because they are like the “alcoholic father who flies into a rage whenever the term ‘alcohol’ is mentioned,” Gore said, people start avoiding the topic completely. In the case of climate change skeptics, that prevents a head-on, reasoned debate on climate change, he suggested. And on the campaign trail, “you have conversations with candidates that kind of pussyfoot around it.”

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