Quantcast
Climate

Obama Tells Colbert: Keystone XL Could Be 'Disastrous'

Last night, President Obama made his much-ballyhooed appearance on Stephen Colbert's The Colbert Report as the show concludes its run before Colbert moves to CBS' Late Night early next year.

In a spectacular "get" for Colbert, Obama cheerfully endured Colbert's parody of how the Republicans view him, while getting to tout his stances on immigration, the lack of action in Congress, the benefits of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") and the likely non-benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline. He made some of his strongest and clearest remarks about the pipeline yet, raising hopes that he will veto it when it comes to his desk.

"The American people want it. It's going to create jobs. The State Department says it's not going to raise the pollution in the atmosphere. You're going to sign that, right?" said Colbert, parroting pipeline supporters and eliciting boos from the  studio audience.

"Obviously, these young people weren't polled," the president quipped before returning the easy pitch Colbert lobbed his way.

"Keystone is going through an evaluation process," he said. "Right now it's being held up by a court in Nebraska that's making a decision about whether the route is legal or not. In the first instance, I don't make the initial decision. The State Department evaluates it ..."

"But you're going to sign it if it comes to you?" Colbert pressed.

"I'm going to make sure that we look at this objectively," the President responded. "We've got to make sure that it's not adding to the problem of carbon and climate change. We have to examine that, and we have to weigh that against the amount of jobs that it's actually going to create, which aren't a lot. Essentially, this is Canadian oil passing through the United States to be sold on the world market. It's not going to push down gas prices here in the United States. It's good for Canada. It could create a couple of thousand jobs in the initial construction of the pipeline but we've got to measure it against whether or not it's going to contribute to an overall warming of the planet—which could be disastrous."

"These young people are going to have to live in a world where we already know temperatures are going up," he said, giving a nod to the youthful, clearly anti-pipeline audience. "And Keystone is a potential contributor to that."

His remarks should be encouraging to pipeline opponents at a time when Republicans have taken over the Senate, and new Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell had made approving Keystone XL his first priority. McConnell's remarks on the pipeline virtually dovetail with Colbert's parody: “Keystone XL is just common sense. It’s a shovel-ready jobs project that would help thousands of Americans find work. It would increase our supply of North American energy. And it would do all that with minimal net climate impact."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Obama Stands Firm on Keystone XL, Veto Likely if Passed by Congress

100+ Scientists and Economists Urge President Obama and Secretary Kerry to Reject Keystone XL

5 Reasons Senate Must Reject the Keystone XL Pipeline

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Popular
Desperate for water, Puerto Ricans are resorting to any available sources, such as this stream in Cayey. Angel Valentin / NPR

Desperate Puerto Ricans Are Drinking Water From Hazardous Waste Sites

The ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee called for an investigation into the availability of potable water in Puerto Rico following reports Friday that residents are scrounging for water from hazardous waste sites.

After the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed residents were trying to access water from three Superfund sites, and following a CNN story Friday featuring Puerto Ricans taking water from a fourth site, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) wrote a letter to acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke asking if she knew about the situation and calling the reports "beyond disturbing."

Keep reading... Show less
Brant at Izembek Lagoon. Kristine Sowl / USFWS

Groups Slam Zinke's 'Backroom Deals' to Build Road Through Alaskan Wildlife Refuge

Ryan Zinke's Interior Department is working behind the scenes to build a controversial and long-contested road through the heart of Alaska's Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, documents show.

The refuge was established more than 30 years ago to conserve wetlands and habitats for migrating birds, brown bears and salmon and other wildlife. 300,000 of its 315,000 acres has been designated as Wilderness in 1980 under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.

Keep reading... Show less
FAO / Giulio Piscitelli

On World Food Day, Pope Francis Says Link Between Climate Change and Hunger Is Undeniable

By Andrew McMaster

Speaking at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on World Food Day, Pope Francis addressed the need for governments around the world to acknowledge that climate change and migration were leading to increases in world hunger.

Francis received a standing ovation after a stirring speech in which he said all three issues were interrelated and require immediate attention.

Keep reading... Show less
The pallid bat is native to the western U.S., where the spread of white-nose syndrome is a threat. Ivan Kuzmin / Shutterstock

Why Are America's Bats Disappearing?

By John R. Platt

It's Friday evening in Pittsburgh, and the mosquitoes are out in force. One bites at my arm and I try to slap it away. Another takes the opportunity to land on my neck. I manage to shoo this one off before it tastes blood.

I'm at Carrie Furnaces, a massive historic ironworks on the banks of Pennsylvania's Monongahela River. Stories-tall rusting structures loom all around me, as do the occasional trees poking their way out of the ground. A tour guide, leading a group from the Society of Environmental Journalists conference, tells me the soil here is full of heavy metals and other pollutants from the factory, which operated for nearly a century before closing in 1982.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
The Amur tiger is the extinct Caspian tiger's closest living relative. Mathias Appel / Flickr

After a Half-Century, Tigers May Return to Kazakhstan

Wild tigers may be on their way back to Kazakhstan.

This news is surprising for a few reasons. First, most people associate tigers with the jungles of India or Sumatra, even the snowy slopes of eastern Russia—not the dry landscapes of Central Asia. But Iran, Turkey and Kazakhstan were once home to thriving populations of Caspian tigers. Unfortunately, sometime between the 1940s and '70s, this subspecies went extinct due to widespread trapping, hunting, poisoning and habitat degradation.

Second, Kazakhstan isn't a nation that often comes up in conversations about conservation. In fact, if Americans recognize the world's largest landlocked nation for anything, it's probably the movie Borat.

Keep reading... Show less
www.youtube.com

California Wildfires: One of 'Greatest Tragedies' State Has Ever Faced

With aid from easing winds, the 11,000 firefighters beating back the Northern California wildfires are making "good progress," as the number of major blazes dropped to 15, the state's fire agency Cal Fire announced Sunday.

But as Cal Fire noted‚ "Sadly, the death toll has risen to 40 people."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Bonn Climate Change Conference, June 4 2015. UNclimatechange / Flickr.

UN Urges World Leaders to Heed Climate Risk, Warns of More Severe Disasters

By Paul Brown

The hurricanes and wildfires that have severely damaged large areas of the U.S. in recent weeks have had no impact on President Donald Trump's determination to ignore the perils of climate change and support the coal industry.

In a deliberate denial of mainstream science, the Trump administration has issued a strategic four-year plan for the U.S. Environment Protection Agency that does not once mention "greenhouse gas emissions," "carbon dioxide" or "climate change" in its 48 pages.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
www.youtube.com

Oil Rig Explodes in Louisiana: 7 Injured, 1 Missing

An oil rig exploded on Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana Sunday night, injuring seven crew members, with an eighth believed to be missing, authorities said.

The explosion was reported at 7:18 p.m. near St. Charles Parish and the city of Kenner. The platform, located in unincorporated Jefferson Parish, is owned by New Orleans-based Clovelly Oil Company.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

Get EcoWatch in your inbox