Hillary Clinton says she opposes construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, breaking her long silence on the controversial project.
“I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone XL pipeline as what I believe it is: A distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change. And, unfortunately from my perspective, one that interferes with our ability to move forward and deal with other issues,” Clinton said during a town hall campaign event Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa.
“Therefore, I oppose it. I oppose it because I don’t think it’s in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change,” Clinton said.
Last weekend marked seven years since TransCanada applied to the federal government to build the pipeline from the Canadian oil sands through the middle of the U.S. to refineries in Texas.
There’s still no sign of a decision from President Barack Obama on whether he will allow the pipeline to be built. Clinton said during the Tuesday campaign event that she can’t wait any longer.
“I thought this would be decided by now and therefore I could tell you whether I agreed or I disagreed,” she said. “But it hasn’t been decided, and I feel now I have a responsibility to you and other voters who ask me about this.”
Clinton, who reviewed the Keystone pipeline application when she was Obama’s secretary of state, has been under pressure from voters and donors to stop dodging questions about the project.
“I have been waiting for the administration to make a decision. … I can’t wait too much longer. I am putting the White House on notice. I am going to tell you what I think soon,” Clinton said last week in New Hampshire.
The State Department is still reviewing the pipeline application under Clinton’s successor, John Kerry.
A State Department analysis found Keystone would have minimal impact on the environment, a conclusion questioned by the Environmental Protection Agency. The pipeline would transport Alberta crude that’s more carbon intensive than other sources of oil.
I am glad that Secretary Clinton finally has made a decision.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is running against Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination
Clinton’s announcement comes as she seeks to win the enthusiasm of environmentalists for her presidential campaign. She previously opposed Obama’s decision to allow oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean.
Clinton is the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in next year’s presidential election but faces an increasing challenge from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a longtime Keystone foe.
“I am glad that Secretary Clinton finally has made a decision and I welcome her opposition to the pipeline,” Sanders said.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, another candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, was also quick to note that he came out against Keystone long before Clinton.
The League of Conservation Voters hailed Clinton’s announcement, calling it “inspiring and exciting.”
“We are thrilled that Secretary Clinton has continued to build on her longtime environmental leadership by publicly opposing the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of government affairs for the group.
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush slammed Clinton for her opposition to the pipeline.
“@HillaryClinton finally says what we already knew. She favors environmental extremists over U.S. jobs,” he tweeted.
The American Petroleum Institute, a lobbying group for the oil and gas industry, said Clinton is misguided.
“Hillary Clinton’s decision to oppose Keystone is a missed opportunity to seize the true potential of our energy renaissance,” said API President Jack Gerard.