Hillary Clinton’s new stance on the Keystone XL is a win for the planet


It didn’t get all the attention that it deserved — maybe because for some odd reason this happened at almost the precise instant that Pope Francis touched down for his tour of the United States. But Hillary Clinton — who despite a number of challenges remains the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination and the most likely to become president — took another huge step on the environment today. Her move raised the prospect that a Hillary Clinton administration could be the most pro-environmental presidency in American history.

As I just noted here recently, Clinton broke with her former boss President Obama and opposed offshore drilling in the Arctic, citing both the risk of a catastrophic accident and the need for America (as well as the rest of the world) to try to break our addiction to fossil fuels. But until recently, she’d been silent on a key environmental issue that’s been getting even more attention: Whether to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. That’s the project that would take dirty tar sands oil produced in western Canada across the American heartland, to refineries and shipping facilities on the Gulf Coast. Clinton had been silent on this: While certainly many Democratic primary voters want to see the project — which would have a major, negative impact on climate change — killed, some labor unions and campaign donors support it.

Today, Hillary Clinton finally spoke out on the Keystone XL plan:

After months of declining to take a position on the Keystone XL pipeline, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she opposes the construction of the 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,” she said during a campaign event in Iowa Tuesday.

“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 had long cited her former job as secretary of state as a reason to delay weighing in on the deal until the administration formalized its opinion on the project. In July, she said she did not want to “prejudge” President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry on the result of an administration review of the pipeline’s environmental impact.

But last week, she promised that her decision would be coming “soon” and suggested that she has been growing impatient with the White House for delaying its final verdict on the matter.

This is a big deal. It’s a real boost for all of the activists who are working to kill the Keystone XL — hopefully even before the next president takes office in January 2017. Perhaps more importantly, this shows that when it comes to the all-important issue of climate change — with the future of the planet on the line — Clinton is willing to fight to reduce our exploitation of fossil fuels.

Of course, this will give Republicans — who, as we noted here earlier this week, are fighting any and all restrictions on their patrons in Big Oil, even improvements to the blowout preventer that could stop another BP-sized spill — more incentive to fight even harder in 2016. But it means that voters — who, most polls have shown, want to government to take action against fossil fuel pollution — will have a real choice on environmental issues next fall. President Obama’s track record on the ecology has been mixed, at best. But the next president could be great.

For more about today’s pronouncement by Hillary Clinton on the Keystone XL, please read: http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/hillary-clinton-n431781

Find out more why the Keystone XL pipeline is a giant step backward in my new book, Crude Justice: How I Fought Big Oil and Won, and What You Should Know About the New Environmental Attack on Americahttp://shop.benbellabooks.com/crude-justice

© Stuart H. Smith, LLC 2015 – All Rights Reserved

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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