Clinton opposes construction of Keystone XL pipeline

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a grassroots organizing meeting at Philander Smith College Monday in Little Rock, Ark.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Hillary Rodham Clinton broke her longstanding silence over the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, telling voters at a campaign stop in Iowa on Tuesday that she opposes the project assailed by environmentalists.

The Democratic presidential candidate said the project had become an impediment to efforts to fight climate change.

“I think it is imperative that we look at Keystone pipeline as what I believe it is, a distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change,” Clinton said. “And unfortunately, from my perspective, one that interferes with our ability to move forward to deal with the other issues. Therefore I oppose it. I oppose it.”

The former secretary of state had previously said she shouldn’t take a position on the issue, saying she didn’t want to interfere with the Obama administration’s deliberations on allowing a project that would transport oil from Canada’s tar sands to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.

But she had expressed impatience in recent weeks over the drawn-out pipeline decision, which has been vigorously opposed by environmental activists and liberals who play a key role in the Democratic primaries. Clinton’s campaign events in New Hampshire and Maine last week were attended by activists who held signs that read “I’m Ready for Hillary to say no KXL,” demanding she oppose the pipeline.

Clinton announced her decision moments after Pope Francis arrived in Washington at the start of a closely watched visit to the United States.