DES MOINES, Iowa, September 22, 2015 (ENS) – Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton today told a town hall meeting that she opposes the TransCanada Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.
Addressing a crowd at Moulton Elementary School in Des Moines, Clinton said, “I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone pipeline as what I believe is a distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change. Therefore, I oppose it.”
Keystone XL is a proposed 1,179-mile (1,897 km), 36-inch-diameter, 830,000 barrel-per-day crude oil pipeline. It would begin in Hardisty, Alberta and run south to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would link to existing pipelines that move oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
As a candidate, Clinton has often been asked about her position on the controversial pipeline, and to date she has deflected those questions. But today she told a supporter, “I oppose it because I don’t think it’s in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change.”
“Time to invest in a clean energy future – not build a pipeline to carry our continent’s dirtiest fuel across the US. I oppose Keystone X,” Clinton tweeted later today.
Clinton says she will put out a clean energy plan within next few days, before the Democratic debate on October 13, the first of this campaign.
Keystone XL critics say it would increase greenhouse gas emissions by enabling further development of Canada’s oil sands, which yield heavy bitumen, called the dirtiest oil in the world. They fear burning tar sands oil would boost the planetary temperature out of control.
Pipeline supporters say Canadian tar sands oil would bolster North American energy security and provide thousands of construction jobs while the line is being built.
In 2010, while serving as secretary of state, Clinton said she was leaning toward approval of the pipeline to move tar sands oil across the Canada-U.S. border.
To cross that border the pipeline needs a Presidential Permit that determines it is in the U.S. national interest. The Obama Administration has been considering the matter for more than seven years.
In January 2014, the State Department completed a final supplementary environmental impact statement after the first EIS was challenged for inaccuracies and a suspiciously close association between the authoring corporation and TransCanada.
The State Department’s supplementary EIS stated, “…there would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed Project route.”
In view of these delays, TransCanada chose to proceed with the southern portion of its Keystone expansion as a separate project, the Gulf Coast Pipeline Project. Because it does not cross a border, no Presidential Permit was needed, and that part of the pipeline is now complete.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running against Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, opposes the Keystone XL pipeline. He has urged her to state her position.
Environmental activists told Reuters that the timing of her remarks was “driven by her desire to make clear her opposition to the pipeline before the October 13 Democratic debate.”
Activists say Clinton’s announcement paves the way for President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL Presidential Permit application.
“Today’s news is a huge win for our movement, and ups the pressure even more on President Obama to reject the Keystone pipeline once and for all,” said May Boeve, executive director of the nonprofit climate group 350 Action.
Jane Kleeb, director of the nonprofit activist group Bold Nebraska, said, “Secretary Clinton heard loud and clear from landowners who would be forced to live with the risky Keystone XL pipeline. Hillary is now standing with us to ask President Obama to reject the pipeline once and for all. Farmers and ranchers always say there is no red or blue water, only clean or dirty. We are proud Secretary Clinton stood up for clean water today as she made it clear she is against an export pipeline that is all risk and no reward.”
Dallas Goldtooth, of Indigenous Environmental Network, applauded Clinton for her newly stated position. “KXL has no tribal nation consent to pass through Oceti Sakowin treaty lands, it has no legally permitted route through South Dakota and Nebraska, and it utterly fails the President’s climate test. This is a major win for our climate movement and the fight to protect Mother Earth. Now it’s President Obama’s turn to reject this tar sands pipeline once and for all.”
Steve Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International, said, “We’re glad to see that Secretary Clinton has weighed the evidence and moved from being “inclined to support” the Keystone XL pipeline to clear opposition. It’s clear that the more you look at this pipeline, the more you realize it’s the wrong choice for this country.”
Kendall Mackey, Tar Sands Campaign Manager at Energy Action Coalition: “For months young people have been asking Hillary to tell us where she stands on Keystone XL, and today she stood with young voters across this country who are demanding we move away from dirty fossil fuels like tar sands and toward clean energy solutions.”
“In the eyes of young people across the country, President Obama’s climate legacy rests on his decision to reject Keystone XL once and for all,” said Mackey. “The time for rejection is now.”
If President Obama does approve Keystone XL, TransCanada says the pipeline has a projected in-service date of approximately two years after the issuance of a Presidential Permit.