Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hillary Formally Opposes Keystone XL

From LA Times

Background: The Keystone pipeline is a oil transport system that runs from Canada to oil refineries in the Midwest United States. So far, 3 out of 4 phases are being constructed or have been completed--each phase adds a section of pipes to the system--but the 4th is still unapproved. This 4th phase, dubbed the Keystone XL pipeline, would essentially create a shorter and wider version of the phase I pipeline connection.

Proponents of the XL pipeline maintain that receiving more oil from Canada contributes to the U.S.'s goal of achieving energy independence from the Middle East, not to mention the creation of thousands of temporary jobs during the pipeline's construction.

Opponents maintain that the pipeline, which relies on the extraction of oil from tar sands, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and thus global warming. By giving Canada more incentive to develop their oil resources, the U.S. is straying farther away from its goal of switching to clean energy sources, according to many environmental groups, and increases the risk of oil spills if the pipe ever fails.

Article: On Tuesday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton formally voiced her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline in response to jabs by fellow candidate Bernie Sanders regarding her long silence on the controversial issue.

She called it "a distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change."

Clinton joins Sanders and other Democratic representatives, as well as the EPA and dozens of environmental protection groups, in the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline. In February 2015, Congress sent the bill authorizing the pipeline's construction to the White House where it was met with a swift veto from President Obama, who maintained that further environmental analysis was required before he could approve it.

As the pipeline crosses international borders, it also falls under the jurisdiction of the State Department; Clinton, the previous Secretary of State, previously refused to comment on the matter in order to not conflict with the Obama administration. However, the pipeline has a fair amount of supporters from the general public; polls from a 2015 CBS News poll showed 60% in favor, while a 2014 Pew Research Center survey had 59% in favor.

1) Republican opponents have condemned her for being too wishy-washy on matters and trying to follow public opinion. Is there any merit in the criticism that Clinton has received for holding out on this issue for so long, or is she justified for not wanting to comment while she was a member of the Obama administration?

2) Is environmental criticism of the pipeline valid? On one hand, we have less reliance on the Middle East for oil; on the other, we have increased emissions. Which option should we choose, or is there no clear best choice?

3) Clinton has previously received generous donations from companies like Chevron and Exxon Mobil. Could these donations have played a role in delaying her response to the pipeline? If so, then should candidates be receiving such donations in the first place?


BBC News


Politifact Poll Summaries

Older LA Times Article

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