POLITICS

Hillary Clinton Cops Out On Keystone Question For Second Time In 2 Days

Environmentalists have ridiculed her rationale for staying neutral on the issue.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton again declined to take a position on the construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline Tuesday, as the issue continues to dog her campaign. 

Clinton was asked at a town hall in Nashua, New Hampshire, if she would sign a bill in favor of the pipeline were she to be elected president. She reiterated what she said when asked about the topic in Iowa on Monday: She won't be taking a position on the controversial project because the process of considering whether it is in the best interest of the country began while she led the State Department. 

"Well, as you know, I was the secretary of state who started that process," Clinton said. "I was the one who put into place the investigation. I have now passed it off, as is obvious because I am no longer there, to Secretary Kerry. This is President Obama's decision, and I am not going to second-guess him, because I was in a position to set this in motion, and I do not think that would be the right thing to do. So I want to wait to see what he and Secretary Kerry decide." 

"If it's undecided when I become president, I will answer your question," she added. 

The State Department is expected to make a final decision on the pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Canadian tar sands to American refineries and ports, sometime this year. In the meantime, Obama has vetoed several congressional votes that would force him to approve its construction. 

Clinton's rivals for the Democratic nomination have embraced the issue as an area of differentiation between their climate and energy agendas. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told a reporter Tuesday that it was hard for him to imagine "how one could be serious about climate change and not address the issue of Keystone." Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has said that "real leadership is about forging public opinion on issues like Keystone -- not following it" and that the rest of the field should "follow his lead" and reject the pipeline. 

Environmentalists have criticized Clinton's rationale for staying neutral on the pipeline, suggesting that by her logic, she shouldn't be commenting on any of the foreign policy issues that arose while she was in Obama's cabinet, even though she has.

Clinton rolled out some of her climate change proposals on Monday, saying it would be a central issue in her campaign. She said as president she would advocate for every American home to be powered by renewable energy by 2027, install half a billion solar panels around the country and promote tax credits to incentivize renewable energy instead of coal.  

CONVERSATIONS