Senator asks leading question, but Secretary Clinton not pre-judging proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline

Today, Secretary Clinton during testimony before the Senate showed her support for energy efficiency and renewables and other ways to use our home-grown resources for clean energy. Despite a line-up of leading questions from Senator Graham, when asked to comment on the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline that would run from Canada to the Gulf, Secretary Clinton rightly noted that with the State Department in the middle of the permitting process for this pipeline, she could not pre-judge what would happen. Although in answer to the Senator’s pointed question, the Secretary answered the she was generally supportive of the United States receiving more oil from Canada, she did not specify tar sands oil – and that is an important point. Canada is a major supplier of oil to the United States, including tar sands. The critical point is whether the United States should be driving additional expansion of the destructive tar sands oil industry to keep our addiction to oil alive as we are trying to switch to clean energy, including in our cars and trucks.

In a time of rising oil prices, the best way to build energy security in America is through clean, home-grown sources of energy that won’t run out such as wind and solar for electric vehicles and fuel efficiency and smart growth to reduce our dependence on oil. Tar sands oil from Canada will continue our dependence on risky and dirty oil. The State Department has the responsibility to conduct a fair and thorough environmental impact statement and national interest determination before making a decision about the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. We are glad to see that Secretary Clinton is not pre-judging the permitting process for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, but is making clear her support for doing more in energy efficiency and renewables.

Right now, what we need to hear from Secretary Clinton is support for a detailed and thorough new draft of the environmental impact statement for the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The draft produced by the State Department as part of the review of this transboundary pipeline was found to be inadequate by the Environmental Protection Agency. And for some time now, many voices from the public, the Hill (including a letter last fall from 11 Senators) and other agencies have been calling for a supplemental environmental impact statement that addresses climate change, pipeline safety, health of refinery communities, endangered species issues, and whether we really need this pipeline at all. In fact, we do not need this pipeline. A recent Energy Department study found that clean energy was the answer to reducing our dependence on Middle East oil, not more tar sands from Canada. Moreover, the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would divert oil from the Midwest for some years to come, causing even higher oil prices in the Midwest. A pipeline that means higher oil prices means hardship for Americans and profits for oil companies. Secretary Clinton needs to keep an open mind about tar sands oil and continue to acknowledge that the best replacement for Middle East oil is clean energy that moves us away from our dependence on oil.


March 2, 2011 Senate Committee on Appropriations Hearing on the FY2012 State Department Budget

Excerpt of Transcript

Lindsay Graham: let's talk about oil. gas prices are going to go up to 4 dollars a gallon, I think we are well on our way

Are you familiar with the oil sands in Canada?

Clinton: Yes, sir

Graham: and the pipeline that's being proposed to be built from canada to texas , I think louisiana?

Clinton: Yes, Sir

Graham: I have been told that the second largest deposit of oil is in the oil sands in Canada and that it is equal to or greater than saudi arabia and iran and there is a problem with the pipeline . What's your view of the  pipeline . Should America be trying to receive this oil?

Clinton. Senator since my department bares the ultimate responsibility for making a recommendation on the pipeline I am not able to at this time express an opinion... um, the uh...

Graham: are you generally supportive of receiving more oil from Canada and less from the mid east?

Clinton: I am generally supportive of receiving more oil from canada. I am absolutely supportive of us doing more in energy efficiency and renewables and looking for clean ways to use our own resources as well