Al Gore, who has called the Keystone XL project "ridiculous" and an "atrocity," said he thinks President Barack Obama will reject the controversial pipeline between Alberta's oil sands and US Gulf Coast refineries.
Former Vice President Gore, who shared a Nobel Peace Prize for advocating action on climate change, wrote in Rolling Stone magazine issue dated June 18 that Obama "has signaled that he is likely to reject the absurdly reckless Keystone-XL pipeline."
In the article, Gore expresses optimism that the world is finally acting to address the risks of carbon dioxide, including by promoting clean energy that doesn't produce greenhouse gases that warm the planet. He wrote that his optimism is based in part on Obama's recently announced plan to limit carbon from power plants.
Gore doesn't say exactly what signals Obama has sent on Keystone.
"Former US Vice President Al Gore inconveniently ignores several facts," Shawn Howard, a spokesman for TransCanada Corp. that proposed building the line in 2008, said in a statement. "Keystone XL will move Canadian and American oil to US refineries, where tens of thousands of skilled refinery workers create products we all rely on. This includes fuels that power equipment in the television studios that Gore used to own and consumer products like gasoline and jet fuel that he relies on."
At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney in response to a question about Gore's remarks reiterated that the pipeline review is continuing at the State Department.
"The president's position, opposition on the pipeline has not changed," Carney said today. "The process continues. It's being run by the State Department, in keeping with the practice of administrations of both parties."
Gore noted that he criticized Obama in Rolling Stone three years ago for his apparent diffidence to climate change. Now he says the president has "taken hold of the challenge."
Last year, Obama gave a speech at Georgetown University and said he wouldn't approve Keystone if it would significantly exacerbate carbon dioxide emissions.
The State Department environmental review concluded that the line probably wouldn't have a big impact on the climate because crude from Alberta would likely be developed even if the pipeline were rejected.
Environmentalists say Keystone would encourage production of Alberta's carbon-heavy oil.
The State Department suspended its review of the project after a Nebraska state court threw into question the process under which Governor Dave Heineman approved the route through his state. The case is now before the Nebraska Supreme Court.
A US Senate committee approved legislation today that would bypass Obama and permit Keystone, though it's not clear if the bill will be brought to the full Senate for a vote. Obama could veto the measure, too, forcing its backers to round up even more votes to override.