Hillary Clinton Opposes Keystone XL Pipeline

After months of not stating her position on the Keystone XL pipeline, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that she opposes the controversial project.


"I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone pipeline as what I believe it is — a distraction from important work we have to do on climate change," Clinton told a community forum in Des Moines, Iowa. "And unfortunately from my perspective, one that interferes with our ability to move forward with all the other issues," she said. "Therefore I oppose it."

Her timing was perfect: The Democratic 2016 front-runner announced her opposition to the project just as Pope Francis landed in the United States for an historic visit. The Pope, who released the first-ever papal encyclical on climate change this summer, has become a global climate change hero.

“We’re happy to see Hillary Clinton join Americans around the country in standing against Keystone XL,” said Bill Snape, senior counsel with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), a nonprofit environmental group. “It’s gratifying that she recognizes how disastrous Keystone XL would be for the climate, wildlife, waterways and people along the route. We hope this is the next step toward an energy plan that halts fracking, keeps fossil fuels in the ground on our public lands and transitions us to a cleaner, safer, more livable planet.”

Warning of the dangers of climate change in 2013, President Obama said of Keystone: "Our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution."

Well, it turns out that it would. In February, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that Keystone XL's tar sands oil development “represents a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions” with the potential to release up to 1.37 billion additional tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere over the next five decades. The EPA said it would be the pollution equivalent of adding 5.7 million passenger vehicles or 7.8 coal-fired power plants.

The opposition to the pipeline has been massive, and the fight over it has become a proxy for the battle over climate change, which has emerged as America's most divisive political issue.

"Over the past four years, scientists, environmentalists, tribes, farmers, celebrities and businesspeople joined forces to fight the pipeline, with more than 2 million comments submitted to the U.S. State Department, tens of thousands participating in rallies against Keystone in all 50 states, and thousands of citizens arrested in peaceful civil disobedience," noted the CBD, which joined other conservation groups in April 2014 to send a letter to Clinton urging her to speak out against the Keystone pipeline.

“Every voice that’s raised against Keystone XL is another raised against the fossil fuel industry that’s pushing our climate to the brink,” Snape said. 

"I was in a unique position as secretary of state at the start of this process, and not wanting to interfere with ongoing decision-making that the President and Secretary (of State John) Kerry have to do in order to make whatever final decisions they need," Clinton said, explaining why she had avoided answering Keystone questions on the campaign trail. "So I thought this would be decided by now, and therefore I could tell you whether I agree or disagree, but it hasn't been decided, and I feel now I've got a responsibility to you and voters who ask me about this."

"I think I owed it to people to say where I stood," she said, adding, "clearly, the time had come for me to answer the question."

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