Hillary Clinton On Keystone Pipeline: You'll Have To Elect Me To Find Out If I'll Approve It


The  Keystone pipeline project is of tremendous importance to North Dakota’s oil fields, especially amidst a rout in oil prices. The ability to on-ramp 100,000 barrels per day of Bakken crude onto the Keystone XL line would help reduce overhead for oil companies operating in the state.

The project is so important that, while campaigning about as far to the right as she could in 2012, Senator Heidi Heitkamp used Keystone as a point of sharp contrast between herself and President Barack Obama. She said on the campaign trail, over and over again, that she would be independent and stand up to Obama on issues like the Keystone pipeline.

So it’s interesting that Hillary Clinton, a candidate Heitkamp endorsed for President way back in 2013, is punting on the Keystone issue.

“As President, would you sign a bill — yes or no, please — in favor of allowing the Keystone XL Pipeline?” Clinton was asked at a recent campaign event.

It’s not like Clinton knows nothing about the project. She served as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013 and during those years her office studied this project in detail. So you think she’d have formed an opinion about how she’d handle the project if elected.

But if she has, she isn’t sharing.

“If it’s undecided when I become President, I will answer your question!” she responded. Because courage.

I can understand Clinton’s political dilemma. On one hand, the case for permitting the Keystone XL pipeline is sound, with most of the opposition coming from environmental extremists who aren’t so much concerned about the safety of the pipeline as they are with manufacturing an infrastructure bottleneck they hope will result in the oil being left in the ground.

On the other hand, those environmental extremists make up a significant chunk of the Democrat base. Not necessarily in North Dakota, mind you, where the scant few Democrats like Heitkamp who have managed to get elected to office must embrace a certain pragmatism when it comes to fossil fuels, but certainly nationally.

Clinton’s campaign trail dissembling is not all that surprising, but is a quandary for Heitkamp who now finds herself on the record endorsing yet another national Democrat leader who will need standing up to in order for fulfill her campaign promises.