A cohort of Democrats got together late last week and talked environmental issues. Before we get to Al Gore’s comment, I’d like to highlight a prediction made by Carol Browner, who has been closely involved with these issues for a number of years:
Earlier in the event, Carol Browner, Obama’s former top climate change adviser, said she thinks the president will ultimately reject Keystone.
“I think at the end of the day he will say no, but there will be some twists and turns before we get there,” Browner said.
Browner served as Obama’s climate and energy adviser until 2011, when she left the administration and later joined CAP as a senior fellow. She previously served as EPA administrator during Bill Clinton’s administration.
She did not elaborate on her remarks about the pipeline.
Recall that last year former President Clinton endorsed the Keystone Pipeline. Browner almost certainly has a more informed take on whether or not Obama will approve the pipeline, having worked in the Obama Administration on environmental issues. One has to wonder what she means by “twists and turns.” Is a 5 year waiting period not sufficiently twisty and turny?
However, it’s equally likely that she is merely giving a speech here as an activist rather than an objective analysis of the outcome. For example if she knew with certainty that President Obama would approve the pipeline, it’s unlikely that she would want to give a depressing speech about how the power players in the Democratic coalition disagree with their position.
Moving on to Al Gore’s comment:
A fiery Al Gore urged President Barack Obama on Thursday to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline, calling the controversial project an “atrocity.”
“This should be vetoed. It is an atrocity. It is a threat to our future,” the former vice president said during a Center for American Progress 10th anniversary event in Washington.
Gore criticized the Canadian oil sands that the pipeline would carry, arguing that approval of the project would be akin to a desperate drug addict looking for fresh veins.
“Junkies find veins in their toes when the ones in their arms and legs give out,” said Gore, a vocal climate advocate who has previously used the drug addiction metaphor to describe Keystone
It’s nothing new for Al Gore to make a silly hyperbolic claim about environmental issues, but the analogy here is poor. The drug addiction metaphor fails because typical drugs associated with “junkies” or strong addictions (heroin, cocaine, etc.) have no health benefits, except perhaps in rare circumstances. Fossil fuels, despite a potential long term threat from climate change, have an enormous present day value and should be credited with supporting the existence of modern day civilization.
It does not appear if an official decision will be made on the Keystone Pipeline before 2014.