March 1st, 2013
08:30 PM ET
10 years ago

Not the Keystone pipeline, the 'Obama pipeline'

(CNN) - Van Jones, a former green jobs official in the Obama administration and a CNN contributor, said Friday that if the controversial Keystone oil pipeline is constructed under President Barack Obama's watch, it could become part of his legacy.

"Now it's the 'Obama Pipeline' and it leaks," he said, posing the hypothetical situation of a spill along its 1,700-mile length.

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"His legacy could be the worst oil disaster in American farmland history. He's got to make a tough choice," Jones said.

A required State Department report on Friday said the "construction and normal operation" of the latest proposed route would have no significant environmental effect.

The State Department assessment is necessary because the route crosses an international border - from Canada into the north-central United States.

Environmental advocates, however, see it differently, as does Jones, who was a special adviser to Obama on the topics of green jobs, enterprise, and innovation at the Council on Environmental Quality.

"This is a shockwave going through the environmental community right now, the scientific community right now," he said.

The reason is that tar sands, a particularly raw form of oil, would be traveling through the pipeline, and Jones described it as "the most corrosive nasty fuel on the Earth."

The Obama administration previously delayed the project by turning down a prior route proposal from oil company TransCanada. Republicans, including 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, have hammered him over the issue.

"And with respect to this pipeline that Governor Romney keeps on talking about, we've built enough pipeline to wrap around the entire Earth once," Obama said at a presidential debate last fall. "So I'm all for pipelines. I'm all for oil production. What I'm not for is us ignoring the other half of the equation," including green energies, Obama said.

Jones said several "myths" exist about the Keystone pipeline - including the number of jobs it would create and the amount of oil it would mean for U.S. consumption.

"It's going through the United States to China," he said of the oil, which would be processed in facilities along the Gulf Coast. "We won't get a drop of it. So we risk our water, risk our farmland and get no oil - bad deal for America."

Filed under: Energy • President Obama
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. g

    it will be the tax payers pipe line if it leaks

    March 1, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  2. R. Shamel

    You approve it, you OWN it, President Obama. You'll go down, WAY DOWN, in history. Don't approve the KXL "fuse."

    March 1, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    They had a "tar sands oil spill" in the Kalamazoo, MI river and no one is allowed to fish, swim, drink, or even touch the water it is so toxic. And it is so heavy it sinks so there is no way to clean it up.

    Don't believe me? Look it up.

    March 1, 2013 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  4. sanity

    Who cares what Van Jones thinks?

    March 1, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  5. rafael

    Good lord this guy is an idiot.

    March 1, 2013 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  6. bassman

    I guess Sarah Palin was right. The Obama administration concluded that the project would not accelerate global greenhouse gas emissions or significantly harm the natural habitats along its route.The State Department, which conducted the study also suggested the impacts on air, water and landscape would be minimal.

    March 1, 2013 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  7. Dan5404

    Did anyone see the video interview on CNN of a small town adjacent to a fracking pipeline? They had been drinking and bathing with gas-contaminated water from the fracking operation, and only learned about the contamination and the danger when someone put a lighter near the kitchen facet and the water burst into flames. Now they are wondering about the long-term health effects. For anyone on well water, as many, many thousands are in the West, this is Exxon's "safe" extraction of shale oil they so happily promote in their commercials. If this pipeline made a significant change in our dependence on foreign oil it might be arguable, but it won't and doesn't.

    March 1, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  8. juge

    YEP if the pipeline is implemented we and the world will be TOAST!

    March 1, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  9. Robert Rapier

    "It's going through the United States to China," he said of the oil, which would be processed in facilities along the Gulf Coast. "We won't get a drop of it. So we risk our water, risk our farmland and get no oil – bad deal for America."

    I don't know why people make this argument. We have seen refineries closing like crazy on the East Coast - because they don't have access to cheap oil. This will create - or at a minimum save - refining jobs on the Gulf Coast because someone has to be paid to process that oil. So the finished products are exported? So what? We export products made from oil every day. The alternative is they can ship the oil straight to China and let them have the refining jobs.

    March 1, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  10. Thomas


    That would create more longterm jobs and serve for a better infrastructure .

    March 1, 2013 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  11. Tony in Maine

    No tar sands oil. Running Keystone to a refinery on the Texas coast does not put one drop of oil in our tanks. It will, along with all the other oil, go onto the world market to enrich big oil even more. Jobs, give me a break!. Once the thing is built, the major jobs will be cleaning up the spills before they contaminate the aquafer that keeps food on the table. This whole thing is just another Republican boondoggle on behalf of their masters, Exxon, BP, et al.

    March 2, 2013 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  12. Tony

    Is there ANY oil project these environmental extremists support? Of course not. Yet they want to get in their cars and planes and run around the country condemning the very fuel that use every day. Stop being hypocrites and show us how it's done with oil. Electric cars require power plants fueled by coal, oil or nuclear fuel. The "green energy" these idiots talk about is a myth driven by their bogus religion of climate change.

    March 2, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  13. Jinx9to88

    Funny how Boehner wants Obama to do what he wants but the Repubs have been blocking Obama agenda the past 4 years.

    March 2, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  14. TomInRochNY

    Yep, it kills me taht people think that this oil is meant for us. If it were they would stop the pipeline in the mid-west where there are plenty of refineries. The oil companies are selling it to the highest bidder, and that isn't us.

    March 2, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |