EDMONTON - Premier Ed Stelmach is firing back at former U.S. vice-president Al Gore over his latest remarks disparaging Alberta's massive oilsands projects.

Gore says extracting oil from Alberta's tar sands jeopardizes the survival of our species.

When asked for his reaction to Gore's remarks, Stelmach pointed out that Gore is no longer an elected leader in the U.S.

"He is the former vice-president," said the premier, smiling broadly as others close to him chuckled.

Stelmach then suggested that U.S. political leaders appear bent on deflecting attention from their own emissions problems.

"The number 1 one issue that they're facing in the United States is coal-fired electricity generation and they've got to deal with it," Stelmach said Tuesday.

"Unfortunately, some governors and political leaders are trying to focus on something else as opposed to the issue they have right in their own backyard."

Gore concedes that his stand won't make him popular in Alberta and a lot of money is at stake. He told the Toronto Star this week that a lot of lives and the future of civilization "are also at stake."

Gore has derided Western Canada's oilsands developments before. In a 2006 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, he called such projects "crazy."

Stelmach suggested that U.S. politicians will be putting themselves in harm's way with voters if they overreact with expensive measures to reduce emissions.

"When it comes to the issue of carbon and increasing dramatically the price of electricity in the United States, politically what do you think is going to come first?" said the premier.

"Food on the table, jobs or some scheme that he may have in his mind with respect to reducing carbon?"

Gore, best known for the movie and book "An Inconvenient Truth" was in Toronto for a speaking engagement.

He recently released another book titled "Our Choice" in which he argues that humans have no choice but to stop using the atmosphere as "an open sewer."