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Nebraska Senators Blast Clinton’s Pipeline Remarks

A number of lawmakers are up in arms this week over vague comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the controversial TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, which is slated to run from Alberta, Canada, to Texas.

Clinton, speaking in San Fransisco earlier this week, suggested that the State Department, which is currently reviewing the massive pipeline project, would eventually approve it. But her comments were a bit unclear. The questioner asked about the Alberta Clipper pipeline, which has already been approved. But Clinton appeared to talk about the Keystone XL pipeline, which is still pending.

“So as I say, we’ve not yet signed off on it,” she said. “But we are inclined to do so.”

Here are Clinton’s full remarks on the issue:

Question: Another international issue that you signed in on last year was the Alberta Clipper, a pipeline from Alberta that brings tar sands, oil sands directly into Wisconsin to the U.S. Midwest. This is some of the dirtiest fuel in the world. And how can the U.S. be saying climate change is a priority when we’re mainlining some of the dirtiest fuel that exists. (Applause.)

Secretary Clinton: Well, there hasn’t been a final decision made. It is -

Question: Are you willing to reconsider it?

Secretary Clinton: Probably not. (Laughter.) And we – but we haven’t finish all of the analysis. So as I say, we’ve not yet signed off on it. But we are inclined to do so and we are for several reasons – going back to one of your original questions – we’re either going to be dependent on dirty oil from the Gulf or dirty oil from Canada. And until we can get our act together as a country and figure out that clean, renewable energy is in both our economic interests and the interests of our planet – (applause) – I mean, I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone how deeply disappointed the President and I are about our inability to get the kind of legislation through the Senate that the United States was seeking.

Clinton’s remarks have caused at least two lawmakers to speak out. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), who has already said he doesn’t support the pipeline project that would cut through his state, wrote a letter to Clinton yesterday asking for clarification on her comments. “Your comments inspire further doubts as to the validity of the review process taken on by the department,” he said.

Johnanns, in an interview with The Hill yesterday, suggested that the State Department could have a lawsuit on its hands if it predetermines the outcome of the Keystone XL review. “One would imagine that this decision will be challenged,” he told The Hill. “And if the net result is the ultimate decisionmaker … had already prejudged this then you have a problem where this would be determined to be arbitrary and capricious.”

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) followed suit yesterday with his own letter raising similar questions.

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