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Steyer Shrugs Off Clinton Silence on ‘Catastrophic’ Planet-Killing Pipeline

Tom Steyer
Tom Steyer / AP
• July 29, 2015 10:50 am

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Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer said on Tuesday that he’s not particularly concerned about Hillary Clinton’s stance on the Keystone XL pipeline, the project that served as a litmus test for his extensive financial support during the midterm elections.

Steyer told Politico that he hasn’t endorsed a presidential candidate, despite hosting a fundraiser for Clinton at his California home in May. Politico then asked about Clinton’s refusal to take a position on the pipeline.

Steyer told Politico that he won’t demand that Clinton stake out a position on the proposed Alberta-to-Texas pipeline, which greens have seized on as a litmus test for politicians’ willingness to take on climate change. That suggests he’s satisfied for now with her silence.

"She isn’t for Keystone," Steyer said. "She has no position."

He explained: "We haven’t insisted that people make a decision on that because it hasn’t been necessary. Maybe we’ll change our minds. We drew a line in the sand on supporting it, but we haven’t drawn a line in the sand and said that absolutely everybody has to take a position on this."

NextGen Climate Action, Steyer’s super PAC, has called opposition to Keystone "critical," and demanded that lawmakers "take a stand" against it. Failing to do so, the group says, will have dire consequences.

The pipeline would mean millions of tons of new carbon pollution entering the air, and could also mean dozens of newly polluted waterways and poisoned communities all across the Midwest. The impact on the climate would be catastrophic — the pollution equivalent of more than 50 coal plants.

Clinton’s refusal to take a position on the pipeline drew criticism on Tuesday from Democratic rival Bernie Sanders. "It is hard for me to understand how one can be concerned about climate change but not vigorously oppose the Keystone pipeline," the Vermont senator said.