Hillary Rodham Clinton (pictured) has said she will oppose the construction of a controversial and ambitious oil pipeline scheme in the US if she becomes president, breaking her silence over the issue.
The Democratic presidential candidate said last week that she decided to speak out against the Keystone XL pipeline because the ongoing debate over it was diverting attention from the bigger effort to fight climate change.
The Keystone scheme is a proposed 1,897km, 36-inch-diameter pipeline that would carry crude oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada southward to refineries on the US coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
I was in a unique position having been secretary of state, having started this process and not wanting to interfere with the ongoing decision making– Hillary Clinton
It would be privately financed, with the cost of construction shared between TransCanada, an energy company based in Calgary, Alberta, and other oil shippers.
The scheme has drawn vigorous opposition from environmentalists.
The former secretary of state had previously declined to take a position on the issue because she didn’t want to interfere with the Obama administration.
"I was in a unique position having been secretary of state, having started this process and not wanting to interfere with the ongoing decision making," Clinton said, according to the Associated Press.
"I thought this would be decided by now and therefore I could [not] tell you whether I agree or disagree. But it hasn’t been decided and I feel now I’ve got a responsibility to you and other voters who ask me about this."
Clinton’s main rivals for the Democratic nomination have campaigned against the project, including Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, who is ahead of Clinton in some polls in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Sanders said in a statement that he was "glad that Secretary Clinton finally has made a decision and I welcome her opposition to the pipeline. Clearly it would be absurd to encourage the extraction and transportation of some of the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet."
In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed disappointment at her announcement.
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said on Twitter that Clinton’s decision proves she "favors environmental extremists over U.S. jobs".