Stephen Colbert wades into Keystone XL debate

Hey, who cares what that Obama guy thinks: America’s political right now has Stephen Colbert on the Keystone XL Pipeline case.

Colbert waded into the debate over the line, which would ship Bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands more than 2,500 kilometres to be processed and sold in the U.S. President Barack Obama delayed approval of the line for at least two months pending review earlier this week over concerns raised by environmental lobbyists.

A leader of that lobby, Bill McKibben, appeared on the show, calling the economic spinoff a pipe dream that will create a few hundred permanent jobs. “The real jobs come when we get off big oil.”

“The pipeline comes from this tar sands deposit in Alberta,” he said. “Now that we’ve already raised the temperature of the earth by a degree we’d be crazy to go out and find the next Saudi oil.”

McKibben, who admitted his own carbon footprint is hypocritical, also quoted a NASA climatologist as calling tar sands production “game over” for a stable climate that would lead to mass flooding.”

For his part, Colbert then suggested bitumen processing has its pluses other than jobs. “On the upside doesn’t that leave us nice clean sand when we’re done, which Alberta will need for its beaches when it’s waterfront property in 50 years.”

In Alberta, public perspective on the issue has been principally divided three ways: supporters, who say it will create several thousand jobs; opponents who are concerned about the impact environmentally of carbon use and of possible spills; and opponents who say allowing a publicly-owned commodity to be shipped out of Alberta for processing is costing thousands more jobs than it creates.

Either way, the size of the deposit guarantees the debate won’t end any time soon. Or, as Colbert noted, “I mean, who hasn’t looked at their hot neighbour and thought , ‘Yeah, I’d tap that.”

Colbert also lampooned a variety of right-wing commentators’ gradually escalating the number of potential jobs created from 2,000 to a million.