Clinton Distances Herself From Pipeline Decision Process: It Was “Delegated to the Deputy” in Early 2009

Buried at the end of today’s must-read Washington Post piece, “Obama allies’ interests collide over Keystone pipeline” is this bombshell:

On Oct. 11, in an interview with the Associated Press, [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton said she realized “this is a very emotional decision” for some but emphasized that she had not been involved in the process yet because “originally, two and a half years ago, this had been delegated to the deputy.”

State Department officials have said they will issue a final decision on the permit by the end of the year; on Nov. 6, McKibben and other activists plan to ring the White House with placards of Obama’s words from the 2008 campaign, including his pledge to free the United States from “the tyranny of oil.”

Hmm. Is she distancing herself from the process because it was unbelievably flawed — see Bombshell: State Department Outsourced Tar Sands Pipeline Environmental Impact Study to ‘Major’ TransCanada Contractor?


My sources say there is a possibility the White House will delay the decision (until after the election), which would be a semi-victory.

The full transcript of the Clinton interview does shows her leaving the door open for such a delay. Amazingly, she says, back when she delegated the decision, “This was not something that the Secretary was going to decide”:

QUESTION: I need to get a quick one in on Keystone (inaudible). So there are environmentalists —

QUESTION: Time’s up. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: I was waiting for that (inaudible). You’re slow off to start (inaudible).

QUESTION: Too bad. He started talking. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, right. Okay.

QUESTION: There’s been a lot of allegations from environmentalists that there’s a conflict of interest, that this TransCanada guy who worked in the campaign has somehow gotten sort of a cozy relationship with the Department then. So the question is, one, I mean, is there — was there a conflict? Do you see any conflict of interest, any problem here? Do you still expect a decision to be made sooner than the end of the year? Will make it yourself? Will you delegate it to someone? How does all that work?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Matt, first, I think that the Department, both here in Washington and in Ottawa, has been very much in listen-and-outreach mode, and they have met with, talked with, received information from a very large group of interested parties — some for, some against, as you know. They recently concluded six public sessions that were held gave a forum for people, and you just can’t — this is a very emotional decision. You have people who feel very strongly on both sides, as has been evident. You have states that are welcoming it, states that are rejecting it, all of whom, I think, are governed by Republicans. Or maybe one isn’t but — (laughter) — it’s quite — this is a very local — this is an issue that raises very local concerns. So I have been just having our team go forward and do what they’re supposed to do, so I have nothing more to say at this time because until a recommendation comes up the chain and — originally, two and a half years ago, this had been delegated to the deputy. This was not something that the Secretary was going to decide. But there is no recommendation, and when there is a recommendation, there’ll be a decision, but it’ll be very much rooted in all the work that has been done. And I think people have tried to be extremely careful and thoughtful, and it’s a process that I am trying to respect until it reaches its conclusion.

QUESTION: But you don’t see any merit to this conflict of interest (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: No. I mean, I haven’t — I have no reason to believe that.

So, she can say “yes” and put it on her deputy or she can say “we need to take another look at this” and call for a new review, a new Environmental Impact Study. Until recently, most people thought this was a certain “yes.” But now there appears to a chance, however, small, of an outcome that is wiser.