“I have been waiting for the administration to make a decision. I thought I owed them that,” Clinton said in response to a question on the pipeline at a town hall meeting in Concord, New Hampshire.
“I can’t wait too much longer. I am putting the White House on notice. I am going to tell you what I think soon,” she added facetiously.
During a question-and-answer session at a Boys and Girls Club, a frustrated Clinton explained why she has withheld her opinion on the 1,179-mile-long project that would move oil from Canada to refineries in the United States.
She later added that she thought the issue would have been decided by now.
As secretary of state, Clinton helped oversee the approval process of the pipeline, which would carry tar-sands oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast. But she has refused to speak publicly about the controversial project since leaving government, saying it would not be appropriate given her former position.
Clinton has been asked about the pipeline on dozens of occasions on both sides of the northern border in the past two years and dodged every time. She wrote a 600-plus page book on her tenure as secretary of state and did not mention the pipeline once.
The issue has become a cause celebre for environmental activists who want the Obama administration to reject the deal, arguing that it deepens the United States’ dependence on oil and contributes to climate change. Others argue that the impact on the environment will be minimal, as the oil will not go unused even if the pipeline is rejected.
“I am not going to second guess (President Barack Obama) because I was in a position to set this in motion,” Clinton said at a July event in Bernie Sanders,. “I want to wait and see what he and Secretary Kerry decide.”
At the same event, she later added, “If it is undecided when I become president, I will answer your question.”
And throughout much of 2013 and 2014, Clinton criss-crossed the country on the paid speaking circuit and later on her book tour. She was asked about Keystone a number of times, particularly in Canada, where the pipeline would originate. At no point did she take a position, however.
The issue has become a political liability for Clinton.
In an interview this month, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s main Democratic opponent said “I am opposed to the construction of the Keystone pipeline. Clinton has not voiced an opinion on that.”
Republican Jeb Bush knocked Clinton on Thursday night in Nevada for not taking a position on the issue.
“Hillary Clinton still can’t say if she’s in favor of the XL pipeline,” he said. “I can. I’m for it.”