Home / Energy / Clinton won’t take sides on Keystone but says it shouldn’t be a litmus test
In this April 29, 2015, photo, Democratic presidential hopeful former Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Clinton won’t take sides on Keystone but says it shouldn’t be a litmus test

NASHUA, N.H. — The controversial Keystone XL pipeline should not be the sole litmus test by which environmental advocates judge presidential candidates, Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday.

“I recognize advocates feel strongly, I respect that,” Clinton said, but “I would respectfully disagree” with those who say that the Keystone project is the “overriding threat” to the world’s climate.

Clinton, the former secretary of state, has repeatedly declined to state a position on the Keystone project, saying it would be “inappropriate” for her to “prejudge” the decision that President Barack Obama may make about whether to approve it.

“I’m in a different position” than other candidates who have taken sides on Keystone because of her previous role in the administration, Clinton told reporters during a news conference here after a town-hall meeting with voters.

The proposed pipeline would bring oil from Canada’s tar-sands deposits to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Because it would cross the border, it requires a permit from the State Department. The department began the review of the project during Clinton’s tenure. The Obama administration has repeatedly delayed a decision on it, saying it needs further study.

Related: Quiet on Keystone, Clinton faces sharper attacks from rivals

The project has become a rallying point in the debate over climate change. Opponents see the pipeline as a symbol of continued dependence on fossil fuels and believe that blocking it would spur the transition to a non-oil economy. They also note that tar-sands oil is dirtier than conventional oil and say that development of Canada’s reserves inevitably would increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama has said he would approve the pipeline only if it can be demonstrated that it wouldn’t increase emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases blamed for warming the world’s climate.

Supporters of the pipeline, who include most Republican lawmakers and some unions, argue that it would provide the U.S. with a secure source of energy and would generate jobs. They also say that Canada will develop the oil fields regardless of whether the pipeline is built and that blocking the route would simply shift the oil to less-safe methods of transportation, such as rail cars.

Clinton, who held the roughly 20-minute news conference here after a town hall in which she answered a range of questions from voters, downplayed Keystone’s importance, noting that the U.S. has “dozens of pipelines currently crossing our border with Canada” and citing other, pressing threats to the climate, including the rapid growth of coal-powered electrical generation in China.

Republicans, she said, have refused to consider climate change an issue.

“Anybody who is concerned about the climate” will see that Clinton’s policies on the topic, which she began to unveil over the weekend, are “a comprehensive approach,” she said.

During the town hall, Clinton deflected a question from a voter who asked for a “yes-or-no” answer on Keystone. If Obama has not resolved the issue, and “it’s undecided when I’m elected president, I will answer your question,” she said.

Republicans accused Clinton of dodging the issue. Clinton “will say or do anything” to win, Republican National Committee spokesperson Michael Short said in a statement.

This article was written by By David Lauter from Tribune Washington Bureau and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.