10 december 2013

[4C Note: For more news on the Keystone XL pipeline, see Feds meet with enviro groups as Keystone decision nears]

Prominent Keystone XL foe set to advise Obama on climate

Elana Schor and Robin Bravender, E&E Greenwire, Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Amid an exodus of White House environmental advisers, greens got reason to cheer late yesterday as Democratic heavy hitter John Podesta, a longtime critic of Canadian oil sands development, signed on as a White House adviser with a focus on climate change.

A former chief of staff to President Clinton and founder of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, Podesta is a crucial ally of environmentalists pushing Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. His new job on Obama's team, confirmed by a CAP colleague and first reported by The New York Times, comes nine days after an anti-KXL forum co-hosted by an arm of Podesta's think tank. The appointment inspired activists to recirculate a speech he delivered more than three years ago blasting the Canadian oil sands as "polluting, destructive, expensive and energy intensive."

"I think suggesting this process can come close to approximating being 'greened' is largely misleading, or far too optimistic, or perhaps both," Podesta said of the production of the heavy fuel that Canada hopes to pump through KXL to Gulf Coast refineries. "It stands alongside clean coal and error-free deepwater drilling as more PR than reality."

His move to the White House, which also includes work on smoothing the rocky rollout of Obama's health care reform law, heartened greens who are pushing the president to reject his State Department's still-in-flux conclusion that the controversial KXL would not significantly exacerbate continental greenhouse gas emissions.

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