Former Vice President Al Gore said on Tuesday that there is “no such thing as ethical oil.” Speaking to a Toronto audience regarding the Keystone XL pipeline, Gore stated that “his countrymen need to wake up to the special interests that have a grip on the levers of power in the U.S. Congress and are able to block legislation on a range of policy issues including… global climate change,” according to The Globe and Mail.

“There’s no such thing as ethical oil. There’s only dirty oil and dirtier oil,” he said.

Many proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline have, in part, advocated for the pipeline by touting the idea that the crude it carries would eliminate the need for imports from nations such as Venezuela. The notion, a typical argument for increased domestic oil and gas exploration, is completely unfounded. Not only would the pipeline not reduce gas prices or create jobs, it would likely increase gas prices, and pose a threat to water supplies and public health.

Public Citizen released a report in April detailing how the proposed branch of the Keystone Pipeline, which will transport tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast to be refined and shipped overseas, would in fact “increase gasoline prices for consumers,” with “particularly significant impacts on prices in the Midwest,” and “if anything, reduce national energy security.”

The pipeline is designed to get oil from Canada to the overseas markets. “For Alberta, the strategic imperative is that we get our products to the ocean, so that we secure global prices for our products,” Energy Minister Ken Hughes said about the pipeline in January.

The fact that the oil will be shipped outside the U.S. raises questions about the validity of claims that the pipeline will improve national energy security. In fact, not only will U.S. consumers not see the oil, but much of it will be owned by China, which is the largest foreign investor in Canada’s tar sands, representing 52 percent of all foreign investment since 2003.


In 2011, the Inspector General launched an investigation into the Keystone XL pipeline and the “bias and conflicts of interest associated with the project’s permitting.” Several members of Congress had a financial interest in TransCanda, the corporation responsible for the Keystone XL Pipeline project, and it was reported that there were numerous omissions in the environmental impact review of the project resulting from TransCanada’s close ties with the State Department.

DeSmogBlog also reported that TransCanada spent $540,000 during the third quarter of 2011, lobbying for the creation of the pipeline. Many of the lobbyists were reported to have direct ties to Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration.

There was also a push to investigate Koch industries’ ties to the Keystone XL project, after one of its subsidiaries, the Alberta-based, Flint Hill Resources Canada LP, applied for and won “intervenor status” in the National Energy Board hearings that led to Canada’s approval of the pipeline. In order to gain “intervenor status,” Koch’s subsidiary had to have “some degree of business interest in Keystone XL,” a National Energy Board spokeswoman told InsideClimate News in 2011.

Alisha Mims is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.