One day after announcing opposition to Keystone Pipeline, Clinton releases fossil-focused energy plan

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton announced that she opposes the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. Today, she released her energy infrastructure plan.

First item on the list: repairing and upgrading our existing pipelines:

  • Repair or replace thousands of miles of outdated pipelines to improve safety and reduce methane leaks by the end of her first term in office.
  • Improve pipeline regulations, including instituting automatic or remote-controlled shut-off valves and leak detection standards that have been recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board.
  • Work to close the loophole that allows companies to ship oil sands crude without paying into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

From there, the plan goes on to mention improving our rail system to prevent oil spills brought on by train crashes, improved cybersecurity to protect our electrical grid, a national infrastructure bank and a “North American Climate Compact” to collaborate with Canada and Mexico to meet efficiency and emissions goals. Seems reasonable enough.

But what’s missing from Clinton’s plan seems to be as significant as what’s in it. If you open up the plan, hit Control+F and search the document for “solar,” “wind,” “alternative” or other non-fossil fuel terms, you get zero hits. The document makes two references to “renewable” energy, but neither outline any plans Clinton has to federalize their growth. The first mention, in the opening paragraph of the plan’s introduction, notes how much growth that sector of our energy economy has already seen. The other mention comes in her plan to award grants to states that use them, along with nuclear power and sequestration, to reduce carbon pollution. In other words, we’ve already seen so much growth in renewables, we don’t need to do more at the federal level; but if the states have some good ideas, cool.

One would think that Clinton would have taken the opportunity to refer readers back to her plan to tackle climate change — which does mention investments in solar and other renewables — but that doesn’t get any mentions, either. This might have something to do with the fact that, as The New Republica’s Rebecca Leber wrote at the time, that plan is “anything but comprehensive.” While it set renewable energy targets, it left out all details as to how to get from Point A to Point B in achieving them.

In this context, the one-sentence version of Clinton’s energy plan seems to be “Let’s do fossil fuels…but better.” If that doesn’t sound at all like the kind of energy plan that was written with the fossil fuel industry in mind, you probably haven’t taken a look at who’s bundling money for Clinton’s campaign. From the Huffington Post:

Hillary Clinton in Cleveland, screenshot via YouTube

Hillary Clinton in Cleveland, screenshot via YouTube

Scott Parven and Brian Pomper, lobbyists at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, have been registered to lobby for the Southern California-based oil giant Chevron since 2006, with contracts totaling more than $3 million. The two bundled Clinton contributions of $24,700 and $29,700, respectively [during her first fundraising quarter]. They have helped Chevron over the years resist efforts to eliminate oil and gas tax breaks and to impose regulations to reduce carbon emissions.

The two Clinton bundlers also were part of a much-criticized campaign by Chevron to manipulate Congress into inserting language into the Andean Trade Preferences Act that would require Ecuador to dismiss a longstanding lawsuit against the company for polluting the Amazon jungle. Democratic lawmakers pushed back against the campaign and the lawsuit is continuing.

That’s the same lawsuit where Chevron hid evidence that their own internal inspectors laughed off the fact that they “keep finding petroleum where it’s not supposed to be” at drilling sites.

Not for nothing, Clinton’s plan’s focus on “responsible” fossil fuel production is exactly what climate activists predicted when she released her short-on-details climate change plan:

The timing of the release of Clinton’s plan is worth noting, given that climate-conscious liberals are currently focused on her newfound opposition to the Keystone Pipeline — the culmination of a long evolution on the issue that began with her suggesting that she’d be “inclined to” support it as Secretary of State in 2010. Having claimed some (albeit begrudging) goodwill from the climate wing of the progressive movement, this is the most opportune moment to sneak out a climate plan that endorses everything about Keystone but its name.

It isn’t a good look. Expect climate activists to continue to push for more.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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