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  • Clinton Refuses To Answer Question About Keystone XL

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign seems to be eager to talk about any political issue except the Keystone XL oil pipeline: a major wedge issue for Democrats.

    Most recently, the Clinton campaign refused to say whether or not Hillary opposed or supported Keystone XL in a Bloomberg poll of all the major presidential hopefuls. Clinton’s spokeswoman was happy to tout the former secretary of state’s position on global warming science and regulating carbon dioxide emissions, but refused to answer the poll’s question on Keystone.

    “The Democratic hopeful has studiously avoided taking a position on the issue, which splits two of her party’s key constituencies: environmentalists and labor. Her campaign ignored this question on Bloomberg’s list,” Bloomberg’s poll noted.

    Keystone XL is a major wedge issue for the Democratic Party, as the hardcore environmental left adamantly opposes it while pro-energy Democrats and labor unions support the project. Environmentalists have been pushing Clinton to take a side on the project, or risk being harassed through the primaries.

    Hot off the presses, courtesy of @350’s talented @matt_anderson. #NoKXL pic.twitter.com/MC3E4b7d0u

    — Karthik Ganapathy (@kartpath) April 7, 2015

    Keystone XL has been a political battleground for years. Environmentalists attacked the project as a way to reboot enthusiasm for their causes after cap-and-trade was defeated in the Senate in 2010, but the campaign against the pipeline would eventually reveal a sharp divide among the left.

    Environmentalists say the pipeline, which would carry oil sands from Alberta to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast, will cause oil spills and contribute to global warming. But labor unions and Democrats from energy producing states disagree and argue the pipeline will help the economy.

    In fact, it was former Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu who introduced a major legislative effort to pass Keystone XL last year. The move was designed to help Landrieu politically in her losing reelection bid, but she supported Keystone since its inception.

    Environmentalist worries about Hillary’s position on Keystone increased after the former diplomat campaigned for Landrieu during last year’s midterm elections. Landrieu was eventually defeated by Republican Bill Cassidy.

    Landrieu’s Keystone effort was joined by other Democrats, including Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Labor union bosses also came out in favor of Keystone XL, saying it will create jobs for their members.

    If Hillary is going to win the Democratic nomination, she needs all the support she can get — including from environmentalists and unions. Especially since environmentalists have become a major source of fundraising and political cash in the past couple election cycles thanks to San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer.

    Steyer is a major funder of anti-Keystone activism and has spent tens of millions of dollars trying to make global warming a top tier political issue. So far, he’s been largely unsuccessful, but he still commands millions of dollars that could go a long way in getting Hillary to her $2.5 billion fundraising goal.

    But it’s not going to be so easy for Clinton. Environmentalists are doing been doing their best to force her hand on the issue.

    “What we are saying is: the public has a right to know where the leading Democratic presidential contender stands on the greatest American fossil fuel flashpoint ever,” Bill Snape, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, told Politico. “Keystone is the pivot: we are moving either toward or away from these types of dirty oil pork barrel projects.”

    Hillary has another problem. If environmentalists aren’t impressed with her green bona fides, they can always champion other potential candidates like Al Gore, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley or Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

    Gore has made his fortune warning people about global warming. But he’s not indicated whether or not he will run for president. Former Maryland Gov. O’Malley has built up his green credentials, but he too has not announced his candidacy.

    Warren has some environmentalists begging her to run for president in 2016. Her stance against Wall Street and corporate America has gotten her the hardcore left vote, including environmentalists, and her campaign group “Ready for Warren” has recently launched an environmental activist arm.

    Whatever Hillary’s decision, Keystone XL could cost her support during the primary if an opponent steps up to challenge her for the nomination.

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