Clinton is opposed to the pipeline and was debating how to tell people she doesn’t like it without losing support from the labor unions supporting the project. 

Hackers just released some more Hillary Clinton campaign emails demonstrating her opinion on the Keystone XL Pipeline.  Those emails were recovered from the accounts of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.  

Confusion in the Clinton Camp

The emails demonstrated some confusion within the Clinton camp as they tried to respond to the challenge of Sen. Bernie Sanders who opposed the pipeline as well.  Clinton wanted to come out as against the pipeline last year, but her aides were worried about how that position would be perceived.  

So, press secretary Brian Fallon asked in an email if the candidate’s “newfound position on Keystone” would be “greeted cynically and perhaps as part of some manufactured attempt to project sincerity?”

Hillary Clinton (Credit: Clinton (Credit:

Pipeline or No Pipeline?

For many years, the Obama administration has delayed the decision of building the pipeline to transport heavy crude oil from western Canada tar sands to refineries located 1,700 miles away on the US Gulf Coast.  The difficulty is in climate change.  Environmentalists are generally opposed to its construction.  Republicans in Congress strongly support it.  

When Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, she assisted in overseeing the federal government’s review of the impact the pipeline would have on the economy and environment.  When asked about it in 2010 she said, “We’ve not yet signed off on it. But we are inclined to do so.”


After she left the State Department she started preparing for her presidential run and she avoided making a decision on it.  She said she would most likely sign it back when she was Secretary of State, but now that she’s running for President she has been trying to plead the 5th on this.  She simply said that she is waiting for Obama to make a decision on it so that she may direct the attention away from herself and the subject.  

Nikki Budzinsi, her campaign labor liaison, says that opposing the construction of the pipeline would be upsetting for union leaders that support it because it would have created thousands of construction jobs.  However, political director Amanda Renteria said in an email that if Obama were to take that position, they would still be supported by trade unions.  

Trever House, her energy adviser, attempted to emphasize Clinton’s energy plans that include infrastructure programs to increase spending and job creation in order to make labor groups, iron-workers, boilermakers and electricians happy.  

Smooth Deceit

Clinton’s speechwriter, Dan Schwerin, wrote, “We are trying to find a good way to leak her opposition to the pipeline without her having to actually say it and give up her principled stand about not second-guessing the president in public.”

Clinton was about to announce her opposition when Obama said he would push back his decision on it till late October.  The Clinton campaign expected this decision had been drawn for political considerations dealing with the Canadian election.  So, Clinton’s team decided not to wait on Obama and drafted a statement that “uses opposition to KXL as a pivot to talk about a plan for broad investment in modernizing our energy infrastructure and forging a climate compact between the US, Mexico and Canada.”  The plan was that this would “soften the blow to the Building Trades” with words about “making the US the leader in fighting climate change and becoming a clean energy superpower.”

Budzinski wrote in an update, “Great news that today we received the Bricklayers endorsement coming out of the meeting today. They brought checks today :).”  She also said that the national building trades union is appreciating Clinton being “candid and up front with them on a difficult issue like KXL.”  She added not to worry about reports that the Laborers’ International Union of North America was on the side of Republicans because it is “for show.”

In Iowa, on Sept. 22, 2015, she said, “I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone pipeline as what I believe it is — a distraction from important work we have to do on climate change.  And unfortunately from my perspective, one that interferes with our ability to move forward with all the other issues. Therefore I oppose it.”  Two months after that, Obama shelved the project and Clinton responded with, “The right call.  Now it’s time to make America a clean energy superpower.”

The difference between Clinton and Trump personalities are easy to see in a case like this. Trump would have just said a long time ago that he didn’t like it and took whatever the consequences were.  Hillary, on the other hand, prefers to calculate everything. 

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