Hillary Clinton’s Pipeline Problem

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should remove herself from deliberations over a controversial pipeline proposal, a group of environmental and consumer advocates said Thursday. Clinton said recently that the pipeline from Canada to Texas is likely to be approved, despite the fact that a full analysis of its impacts has not been completed.

The groups said that Clinton’s remarks indicate she is “biased” in favor of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL expansion, as the full environmental impact statement isn’t expected to be finalized until next year. A numbers of senators have also criticized Clinton’s statements, asking her not to “pre-judge” a massive pipeline project that would bring “dirty oil” to the US from Canada’s tar sands.

“As the State Department’s review is ongoing, it is inappropriate for you to make statements about what final decision you are ‘inclined’ to make,” the enviro groups, including Friends of the Earth, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Greenpeace, wrote to Clinton. “The decision about whether or not to permit this pipeline is a key environmental decision for this administration, yet your recent comments make it clear that you are biased.”

The proposed 1,661-mile pipeline from Alberta, Canada to Nederland, Texas has drawn criticism from senators and a number of environmental and citizens’ rights groups. Green groups have expressed concern about drawing more oil from Canada’s tar sands, which has a substantially higher carbon impact than conventional oil. There are also concerns about the pathway of the XL line, which would cross environmentally sensitive areas of the Great Plains. Citizens groups are also unhappy about the prospect of an expansion, citing recent accidents involving pipelines and a lack of consultation with the communities that the new pipeline would cross.

The groups say that Clinton’s remarks expose the State Department to potential lawsuits (probably from the groups themselves), since they indicate that approval of the pipeline is a foregone conclusion and a more extensive review of the environmental implications may not be considered in the decision-making process. “Her comments demonstrate disregard for her agency’s legal responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act and suggest that she cannot serve as an objective arbiter of this process,” said Marcie Keever, legal director for Friends of the Earth.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest