Campaigning in Iowa on Tuesday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced she opposes the Keystone XL Pipeline. Keystone foes had pressed her for months to declare her opposition, but until this week she took no side in the controversy, explaining that, as former head of the department reviewing the project, she did not want to “second guess” President Obama and Secretary Kerry, and would “wait and see” what they decide. In July, she told a New Hampshire voter who queried her on Keystone, “If it’s still undecided when I become President, I will answer your question.”
Well, officially it’s still undecided, so Clinton’s action confirms what many of us suspected – Obama and Kerry long ago decided to kill the pipeline through a deny-by-delay strategy.
On announcing her opposition, Clinton criticized Keystone as “a distraction from important work we have to do on climate change.” She offered a fuller explanation the next day in a blog post on Medium.com:
“We shouldn’t be building a pipeline dedicated to moving North America’s dirtiest fuel through our communities — we should be focused on what it will take to make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century. For too long, the Keystone XL pipeline has been a distraction from the real challenges facing our energy sector — and the job-creating investments that we should be making to meet them.”
The Keystone project would be funded solely by private investors putting their own capital at risk. “We” – that is, political elites – shouldn’t allow that. “We” should only allow investment in “clean energy.” Sounds like central planning.
Perhaps Clinton also means Keystone has become a political distraction for self-styled progressives. Keystone was useful when it mobilized green activists after the death of cap-and-trade in 2010, but the big game now is the “Clean Power” Plan and Paris climate treaty. Time to move on.
Clinton says she had to speak out on “an issue that matters so much to so many” because “the effects of climate change have grown more acute,” citing recent U.S. forest fires, the California drought, and “more severe storms and heat waves” around the world. Actually, there is no solid evidence carbon dioxide emissions are increasing the frequency or intensity of extreme weather, and fossil-fueled development remains indispensable for making our naturally-dangerous climate system more livable.
“Over the past five years, a 20-fold increase in the amount of oil shipped by rail has led to devastating accidents,” Clinton remarked, proving that irony can be pretty ironic sometimes. The State Department’s environmental review concluded that blocking the Keystone pipeline would dramatically increase shipments of crude-by-rail, leading to more frequent oil spills, accidents, and fatalities.