Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state responsible for the review of the Keystone XL pipeline, announced her position on the project during a rally in Iowa Tuesday afternoon. There, the Democratic presidential candidate revealed that she is opposed to the pipeline.
"I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone XL pipeline as what I believe it is: a distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change, and, unfortunately from my perspective, one that interferes with our ability to move forward and deal with other issues," Clinton said.
"Therefore, I oppose it. I oppose it because I don't think it's in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change."
The announcement did not come during her speech at the rally, but afterward when a young woman asked her if she would offer her opinion. This ends a long, often awkward series of dodges from Clinton on the issue.
"You won’t get me to talk about Keystone," Clinton said in January.
The media and her opponents hammered Clinton for months for refusing to take a stance on the issue. The Keystone pipeline has left Democrats in a particularly tough position because it pits two constituencies of the party against each other: environmentalists who worry about the climate effect of the pipeline and labor groups that desire the shovel-ready jobs.
When asked a few months ago what her position was, Clinton said she did not think it appropriate for her to weigh in because the administration was still reviewing the project.
"If it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question," Clinton said.
The Democratic frontrunner was blasted from members of her own party. After her announcement, Clinton’s challengers were quick to offer their responses, criticizing how long it took for the candidate to come around to the same position they hold.
"As a senator who has vigorously opposed the Keystone pipeline from the beginning, I am glad that Secretary Clinton finally has made a decision and I welcome her opposition to the pipeline," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) said.
Former Gov. Martin O’Malley had much stronger words for Clinton, connecting her refusal to offer a policy stance on Keystone to other issues she ducked for long periods of time.
"On issue after issue--marriage equality, drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants, children fleeing violence in Central America, the Syrian refugee crisis, and now the Keystone Pipeline, Secretary Clinton has followed--not forged--public opinion," O’Malley said. "Leadership is about stating where you stand on critical issues, regardless of how they poll or focus group."
Clinton made her announcement just minutes after Pope Francis arrived for his much anticipated and highly covered U.S. visit.