Hillary Clinton Steers Clear of Keystone Pipeline in New Book

Hillary Clinton’s memoir appears to completely ignore the controversial pipeline.

Protesters against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline hold placards across the street from where US President Barack Obama attends a Democratic Party fundraising event in San Francisco, California, on November 25, 2013. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
National Journal
Alex Seitz-Wald
June 9, 2014, 8:15 a.m.

Fans and op­pon­ents wait­ing to hear Hil­lary Clin­ton’s po­s­i­tion on the con­tro­ver­sial Key­stone XL pipeline will have to keep bid­ing their time as her new book, des­pite stretch­ing to some 600 pages, doesn’t men­tion the pro­ject.

Key­stone is nowhere in the de­tailed in­dex of the book, Hard Choices, a mem­oir of her time as sec­ret­ary of State, which comes out Tues­day. And the pipeline goes un­men­tioned in a chapter de­voted to cli­mate change and second one on jobs and en­ergy, ac­cord­ing to sec­tions ob­tained by the Na­tion­al Journ­al.

Be­cause the pipeline, which would run from Al­berta, Canada to re­finer­ies on the Gulf Coast, crosses an in­ter­na­tion­al bor­der, Clin­ton’s State De­part­ment had pur­view over its ap­prov­al.

Her book’s 32-page-long in­dex, which con­tains hun­dreds of entries ran­ging from hot-but­ton top­ics like “Ber­g­dahl, Bowe” to ob­scure ones like the “My­it­sone Dam pro­ject” in Burma skips from “Key, John” to “Khal­ifa, Sheikh Khal­id bin Ahmed al” with no men­tion of Key­stone.

Chapter 21, titled “Cli­mate Change: We’re All in This To­geth­er,” de­tails Clin­ton’s com­mit­ment to ad­dress­ing glob­al warm­ing, which she writes is both a “sig­ni­fic­ant na­tion­al se­cur­ity threat and a ma­jor test of Amer­ic­an lead­er­ship.” In Chapter 22, called “Jobs and En­ergy: A Level Play­ing Field,” Clin­ton writes that the U.S. needs to be a glob­al lead­er in clean en­ergy. Neither chapter men­tions the con­tro­ver­sial pipeline.

Clin­ton’s spokes­per­son did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Dur­ing a March speak­ing ap­pear­ance in Van­couver, former Ca­na­dian Am­bas­sad­or to the United States Frank McK­enna tried to ask Clin­ton about the pipeline. “No com­ment,” she replied, ex­plain­ing that it would be im­prop­er for her to com­ment on a de­cision still pending be­fore State.

As sec­ret­ary of State, Clin­ton mostly stayed quiet on the pro­ject while it was mak­ing its way through the form­al ap­prov­al pro­cess. But in Oc­to­ber 2010, just as en­vir­on­ment­al groups were step­ping up their fight against Key­stone, Clin­ton told the Com­mon­wealth Club of San Fran­cisco that State was “in­clined” to ap­prove the pipeline “for sev­er­al reas­ons.” Un­til the U.S. can scale up clean-en­ergy al­tern­at­ives, she ex­plained, “we’re either go­ing to be de­pend­ent on dirty oil from the Gulf or dirty oil from Canada.”

Clin­ton’s State De­part­ment urged against ap­prov­al in Janu­ary of 2012, but cited the short ap­prov­al time frame Con­gress im­posed on the de­part­ment rather than the un­der­ly­ing mer­its of the pro­ject. After nu­mer­ous delays, Clin­ton stepped down from State be­fore the pipeline was ap­proved, and it is still pending be­fore Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry’s de­part­ment today.

Even be­fore her book came out, Clin­ton came un­der pres­sure from green groups to come out against the pipeline. A co­ali­tion of 30 groups fight­ing Key­stone, which they be­lieve would con­trib­ute to cli­mate change, wrote an open let­ter last month ask­ing the former sec­ret­ary of State to join their ef­forts. “Giv­en your long-stand­ing ad­vocacy for the en­vir­on­ment and the im­port­ance of bat­tling the cli­mate crisis, your in­volve­ment would lend an im­port­ant voice to the struggle against this dan­ger­ous pipeline.”

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