US State Dept. spokesman Mark Toner was asked to respond to criticism of Hillary Clinton’s comments that she is “inclined to” okay the Keystone XL pipeline even though the approval process is still underway.
Here was part of the exchange at the press briefing yesterday:
MR. TONER: Alberta Clipper pipeline was what the questioner asked about. She talked about – she – her response reflected the status of the Keystone XL pipeline, which is still under deliberation.
QUESTION: Right, correct. But she said that they were – that the Department is inclined to approve it. Did she not?
MR. TONER: She did.
QUESTION: Yes, okay. Well, there is some concern being expressed by lawmakers, environmentalists, and others that this prejudges the results of the review of – her comments.
MR. TONER: Well, my comments are that she – I think she also followed that with an assessment about the fact that we need cleaner energy sources and referred to the President’s agenda to seek cleaner energy sources, but until that time, we need to – frankly, to find energy sources in other areas as well, be they clean or dirty. And her words obviously stand.
Meanwhile, both of Nebraska’s senators are getting on the case. Democratic Senator Ben Nelson wrote to Clinton yesterday, “I am deeply concerned by your remarks last week to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, California, regarding the U.S. Department of State’s approval process for pipeline projects. … These comments strike me, and many of my fellow Nebraskans, as an indication that a decision has been reached on the Keystone XL pipeline before your agency has done a thorough study of the environmental impacts which the pipeline will have on Nebraska’s Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer.
Republican Senator Mike Johanns wrote, “While you acknowledged that you ‘haven’t finished all of the analysis’ and your staff indicated they are still reviewing ‘the thousands of comments we have received,’ your comment that the State Department ‘is inclined’ to grant approval for the pipeline appears to prejudge the outcome as a foregone conclusion … a premature decision of this magnitude is unfortunate, especially in light of the significant concerns I outlined to you in a letter the previous day regarding the proposed pathway of this pipeline.”
In other news, the NYTimes reports that Idahoans are suing to keep oil sands equipment heading to Alberta from passing along their roads:
“…The problem, said Mr. Laughy, is that the proposed loads are so large — and would travel so slowly — that they would literally block the highway as they rolled through. According to plans submitted to state regulators, some of the shipments would weigh more than 600,000 pounds, stand as tall as a three-story building, stretch nearly two-thirds the length of a football field and occupy 24 feet side-to-side — the full width of U.S. 12’s two lanes for much of its course through Idaho.”