Al Gore, the former vice president and de facto leader of the climate change movement, is opposed to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. “It’s an atrocity,” Gore insists. That may not come as a surprise but his prediction for what happens next in the Keystone battle will grab your attention.
“I don’t know what the president is going to do," Gore says in an interview with The Daily Ticker. "If I had to bet, I would bet that he disapproves it.”
Canadian energy company TransCanada (TRP) has been waiting for U.S. State Department approval to build the Keystone pipeline, which would carry millions of gallons of tar sands oil from Alberta to oil refineries in the Gulf Coast. Keystone of course has become a cause célèbre for environmental activists. The Natural Resources Defense Council contends that tar sands oil is “dirtier and more corrosive” than conventional oil and causes high levels of greenhouse gas pollution, raises the risks of spills and damage and “leaves behind immense lakes of toxic waste.”
Keystone supporters emphasize the economic advantages of installing the pipeline -- including freeing the U.S. from a dependence on Middle East oil and creating thousands of jobs. The State Department estimates that 3,900 construction jobs will be added every year until the pipeline is completed (the southern portion of the pipeline has already been erected). President Obama told a reporter this year that the pipeline would generate “maybe 2,000” jobs. State Department officials also noted that “the proposed project would generate 35 permanent and 15 temporary jobs, primarily for routine inspections, maintenance, and repairs. Based on this estimate, routine operation of the proposed pipeline would have negligible socioeconomic impacts.”
Gore argues that the environmental damage from fracking and oil tar sands production offset any job benefits. He also wants the federal government to stop “subsidizing” the natural gas industry.
“We should let it carry its own weight in the marketplace and we should regulate the leaking of methane and the threats to groundwater,” he says. “The water requirements for an average fracking well are around 5 million gallons of water. And in many areas like the Southwest or Northern China or India, the water resources can’t continue to be allocated that way.”
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