Hillary Clinton pledged Monday to make America “the world’s clean energy superpower,” but said her former role as secretary of state prevents her from weighing in on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, even as her Democratic opponents stand in firm opposition to it.
“No other presidential candidate was secretary of state when this process started,” Clinton told reporters in Iowa after laying out her plans to combat climate change.
“I’m confident that the pipeline’s impact on global greenhouse gas emissions will be a major factor in that decision, as the president has said,” Clinton added. “So I will refrain from commenting because I had a leading role in getting that process started.”
Clinton has refrained from commenting on the pipeline’s construction in the past, and her remarks Monday seemed to be a definitive indication that she will not weigh in until the final Obama administration review is complete.
Democratic presidential candidates Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders have been open about their opposition to the pipeline that would bring oil from Canadian tar sands to the Gulf Coast.
"Real leadership is about forging public opinion on issues like Keystone -- not following it," O'Malley deputy campaign manager Lis Smith said.
Republicans presidential candidates have called for its construction, saying the pipeline will help create jobs and promote energy independence.
In her speech, Clinton laid out two goals she would begin working on her first day as president -- install more than half a billion solar panels across the country by the end of her first term and have the U.S. generate enough clean energy to power every home in America in the next ten years.
Clinton’s attempts to elevate the issue of climate change in the 2016 election allow her to create a clear distinction with her GOP opponents who have denied or questioned the threat of climate change. A video released by her campaign ahead of the speech featured quotes from a number of her top Republican White House hopefuls expressing skepticism or denial about the existence of global warming.
“I refuse to let those who are deniers, who disagree with what we need to do, to rip away all the progress we have made and leave our country exposed to the most severe consequences of climate change,” Clinton said. “America needs to lead this fight, not go MIA.”
Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Short said Clinton's energy agenda is "to raise more taxes and double down on President Obama’s EPA overreach," and slammed her for not taking a stance on Keystone.