Hillary Clinton evaded requests for her opinion on the Keystone XL pipeline at campaign events Monday and Tuesday, while her opponents have taken strong stances and voters are urging her to do the same.
After years of debate, the fate of the channel that would carry oil from the tar sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico lies in President Obama’s hands. While the other presidential candidates are mostly split along party lines in their opinions on the pipeline, Mrs. Clinton has refrained from commenting because of her involvement in the project’s evaluation as secretary of State.
“No other presidential candidate was secretary of state when this process started, and I put together a very thorough, deliberative, evidence-based process to evaluate the environmental impact and other considerations of Keystone,” Clinton told reporters Monday in Des Moines, Iowa.
Clinton said she would not “second guess” Mr. Obama’s decision, and refused to say whether or not she would approve the pipeline if she were president.
“If it's undecided when I become president, I will answer your question,” she said Tuesday in New Hampshire.
Her Democratic competitor Martin O’Malley, who has made combating climate change a major point in his campaign, is vocally opposed to the pipeline. In an email to supporters sent Monday, just after Clinton’s refusal to reveal her position in Iowa, he reiterated his opposition.
"Our climate, our home, is in trouble if we do not act," Mr. O'Malley wrote in the email. "I know where I stand on Keystone XL and I have a plan to end our reliance on fossil fuels by 2050."
O’Malley’s deputy campaign manager Elisabeth Smith also made what appeared to be a sidelong reference at Clinton in a recent statement.
"Every Democrat should follow [O’Malley’s] lead and take a stand to commit to ending our reliance on fossil fuels,” she said.
Fellow Democrat Bernie Sanders has also rejected the project, while Republican candidates have generally endorsed it.
Jeb Bush wrote in a Facebook post in February, “The Keystone pipeline is a no brainer. Moves us toward energy independence & creates jobs. President Obama must stop playing politics & sign the bill.”
Scott Walker and Marco Rubio have also explicitly expressed support for the pipeline in statements over the last couple of years.
“By not acting on Keystone, the President is depriving America of a means to create jobs, take a step towards energy independence, and bolster our national security by tapping into our energy resources and those of our friends in Canada instead of tyrannical governments,” Mr. Rubio said in a 2012 statement.
Donald Trump’s approval of the project can be seen in the breakdown of his finances, as well as through verbal endorsement. His financial disclosure revealed he has invested a quarter of a million dollars in the Canadian company that would build the pipeline.
This report contains material from the Associated Press.