23 September 2015, News Wires – Democratic US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton broke her long silence on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline on Tuesday, saying she opposes it.
As the former US Secretary of State, Clinton was in the centre of the heated debate over TransCanada’s proposed pipeline, which would carry oil sands crude from Alberta, over the Canadian border, and down to refineries on the US Gulf Coast.
Construction has been delayed for nearly seven years as the State Department continues to review the project to decide whether to grant a cross-border permit.
At an event in the US state of Iowa, Clinton said the project has become a “distraction” from efforts to fight climate change, according to reports.
Given the potential impacts of oil-sands development on emission-reduction goals, she said, “I oppose (the pipeline)”.
Clinton’s Democratic rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, opposes the pipeline and had urged her to take a position.
Jeb Bush, a Republican presidential candidate, tweeted that Clinton’s stance on Keystone means she “favours environmental extremists over US jobs”.
Keystone watchers have been eager to learn Clinton’s opinion about the pipeline since 2010. Then, as secretary of state, she said she was inclined to approve it. Asked repeatedly about the project since she entered the race in April, she has declined to state her stance.
Accused by some of being evasive out of political expediency, Clinton has said she refrained from taking a stand because did not want to “second-guess” her former boss, President Barack Obama.
Obama is expected to decide on Keystone in coming months. The White House declined to comment on Clinton’s position.
TransCanada spokesman Davis Sheremata said the company remains focused on securing a permit for the project, Reuters reported.
The American Petroleum Institute said in a statement that Clinton is “wrong” to oppose the pipeline.
“Hillary Clinton’s decision to oppose Keystone is a missed opportunity to seize the true potential of our energy renaissance,” the group said.