Report

Clinton on Keystone: ‘I Oppose It’

The Democratic front runner finally tells us what she really thinks about the long-delayed pipeline from Canada, when it’s too late to make a difference.

By , a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy.
HRC

Hillary Clinton told a campaign event in Iowa Tuesday that she is opposed to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, the first time the Democratic presidential front runner and former secretary of state has offered an up-or-down opinion on the controversial oil pipeline that has been awaiting official approval for just over seven years.

“I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone pipeline, as what I think it is, as a distraction to the important work we have to do on climate change,” Clinton said, according to The Hill. “Therefore I oppose it,” she said.

Clinton, who as secretary of state was nominally overseeing U.S. deliberations on Keystone, warned the White House late last week that "I am going to tell you what I think soon because I can’t wait.”

Hillary Clinton told a campaign event in Iowa Tuesday that she is opposed to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, the first time the Democratic presidential front runner and former secretary of state has offered an up-or-down opinion on the controversial oil pipeline that has been awaiting official approval for just over seven years.

“I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone pipeline, as what I think it is, as a distraction to the important work we have to do on climate change,” Clinton said, according to The Hill. “Therefore I oppose it,” she said.

Clinton, who as secretary of state was nominally overseeing U.S. deliberations on Keystone, warned the White House late last week that “I am going to tell you what I think soon because I can’t wait.”

Her newly-stated opposition to the project, while entirely symbolic now, nonetheless will find resonance in the presidential campaign as she seeks to shore up support with the more liberal wing of her party. One of her rivals, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, said in a statement that he was glad she “finally” opposed it. Another, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, pounced on her announcement Tuesday to lambast her finger-in-the-wind approach to tough issues.

“That’s what’s at stake in this election: the difference between conviction and convenience, and the gulf between actions and words,” he said in a statement.

The State Department technically has the final say over Keystone, which is meant to carry heavy oil from Canada down to the U.S. Gulf Coast, since the project crosses an international border. Environmentalists don’t want to encourage more production from the tar sands, because mining the thick sludge produces more greenhouse gas emissions than producing most other kinds of oil.

But the State Department has given Keystone the environmental greenlight several times, finding that the pipeline would not lead to a serious increase in emissions. Nevertheless, President Barack Obama has repeatedly delayed a final decision on Keystone, and earlier this year vetoed legislation that would have approved it.

Environmentalists who otherwise cheer Obama’s ambitious efforts to tackle climate change have long criticized the president for not simply killing the project, which has been in the works since 2008 and which would enable larger-scale production of heavy crudes from Canada’s tar sands. Many Republicans, by contrast, have attacked the president for delaying approval so long.

Photo credit: Darren McCollester/Getty

Keith Johnson is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @KFJ_FP

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