TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Threads the Needle on Keystone Pipeline

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Jim Cole—AP Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton listens to questions during a campaign stop on July 28, 2015, in Nashua, N.H.

She's avoided taking a stance on a hugely symbolic issue, but many environmentalists aren't upset

When an assertive New Hampshire voter asked about the Keystone Pipeline, he gave Hillary Clinton exactly two options.

“As president, would you sign a bill—yes or no, please—in favor of allowing the Keystone XL pipeline,” said the man in the audience at a town hall in Nashua on Tuesday.

Clinton declined to choose either. “This is President Obama’s decision,” she said, citing the White House’s ongoing review of the most controversial oil pipeline in recent years. “If it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question.”

Clinton has repeatedly refused this week to take a stand on the controversial Keystone pipeline, saying that she will not comment on a decision the White House still must make. It’s a notable elision because many environmentalists have spent the last few years calling opposition to the pipeline a litmus test for seriousness about fighting climate change.

But despite her hedging, Clinton has won initial approval for her climate change plans from key figures in the environmental movement, including billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer, the Sierra Club and a variety of activists and politicians in the early primary states. Many activists expect President Obama to decide the issue in the coming months, which would make it a moot point in the 2016 race.

Clinton has seized on an ambivalence on the left over Keystone XL’s importance in the 2016 presidential race.

“From our perspective, it’s not problematic,” Michael Brune, executive director the Sierra Club said in an interview of Clinton’s refusal to take a position. “The decision on Keystone will be made long before the election. For the 2016 presidential candidates, their stance on Keystone is only symbolic.”

Among environmental groups, stopping the Keystone pipeline has been a major symbol of the fight to slow fossil fuel extraction. But the pipeline’s importance has faded recently as the Obama administration has set strict regulations on coal-fired power plants and increased fuel standards on cars and trucks. While they still hope to stop Keystone, climate activists now are more likely to talk about the need for the next president to rapidly expand renewable energy, put a moratorium on oil drilling in the Arctic and cut back on fracking.

Keystone, some say, is not a make-or-break climate issue.

“Basically, we’d trade Keystone for a price on carbon or other important policies,” said Robert Cowin, director of government affairs at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit science advocacy group.

Clinton’s position on climate change seems to have hit a delicate balance between satisfying environmental activists and avoiding the anger of moderates and businesses interests who support Keystone. One way she’s done that is by changing the subject from Keystone to other climate change flashpoints.

“To signal that there is only one overriding threat really doesn’t take into account the seriousness of a whole range of issues,” Clinton said Tuesday. “That’s why I’m coming out with a comprehensive clean energy plan.”

“China is building coal-fired power plants, at least one or two every week to meet demands,” she added. “We have dozens of pipelines already crossing our border from Canada, so we have to look at all of this.”

As Secretary of State in 2010, Clinton said she was “inclined” to support Keystone. Her husband, President Bill Clinton, called in 2012 for embracing the pipeline, and Clinton recently hired former Keystone lobbyists Jeff Berman as a consultant to her campaign, though he will not be a policy advisor.

At least one of Clinton’s closest advisors opposes the pipeline. John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, notably recused himself during his time in the Obama Administration in 2013 from advising on Keystone XL policy because he was a staunch opponent of the project.

Podesta is now advising Clinton on a full range of climate issues, a Clinton campaign official told TIME.

Keystone has long been a rallying call for environmental activists who saw it as a critical last stand in the face of congressional inaction against climate change. Large protests began gathering regularly outside the White House beginning four years ago, with a stream of activists arriving in red traffic vests and polar bear costumes. The virulent opposition took an almost apocalyptic tone: the prominent NASA scientist James Hansen said in June 2011 the pipeline was “game over” for the fight against climate change.

As the climate fight is waged on other fronts, like the federal courts and with the White House’s limits on carbon emissions, Keystone has lost some of its dire urgency for environmentalists compared with four years ago.

Moreover, some evidence shows the actual emissions from the pipeline may not be significant. A State Department review showed in January 2014 the pipeline would deliver 830,000 barrels of oil per day from the Canadian tar sands, or an extra 1.3 million to 27.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year.

However, because Canadian companies would almost certainly extract the oil anyway, the State Department review also said Keystone XL would likely not have a major effect on the removal of fossil fuels from the ground. Keystone is “unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States,” the department said.

A more recent Environmental Protection Agency letter to the State Department disagreed, however, arguing that the 1,179-mile pipeline would increase oil production by making it cheaper to transport.

Clinton has proposed expanding the United States’ reliance on clean energy dramatically by 2027, moving a third of U.S. energy to renewable sources within ten years of taking office and increasing the amount of solar capacity 700% by 2020. She would extend tax incentives for renewable and give grants to states that adopted clean energy measures.

By not opposing Keystone and giving few details about restricting the fossil fuel industry, Clinton has also avoided scrutiny from businesses and oil companies.

“It’s obvious what Clinton’s thinking is: she’ll be better than any Republican elected, probably by a mile. She simply expects environmentalists to fall in line,” said Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. “And she wants to keep her business sector happy.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley have both criticized Clinton for not taking a stance on Keystone XL. “It is hard for me to understand how one can be concerned about climate change but not vigorously oppose the Keystone pipeline,” Sanders said in a statement. O’Malley has vigorously opposed the pipeline and called for 100% reliance on renewable energy by 2050.

Clinton’s punt on Keystone is not the first time a Democratic candidate has avoided the issue. Four years ago, President Obama announced he was subjecting the pipeline to an Administration review, effectively delaying a decision until after the 2012 election.

Still, for some, Keystone remains a barometer of Clinton’s conviction on climate change.

“Keystone is also a proxy for other questions about extreme energy: Will she stand up to the fossil fuel industry on opening the arctic to oil exploration,” Bill McKibben, a prominent climate change activist said in an email. “What about offshore drilling? Continued leases of coal in the powder river basin?”

“These are things a president gets to decide, so we need to know what she thinks,” McKibben said.

TIME

Morning Must Reads: July 29

Capitol
Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

Convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard will be released later this year, fulfilling a long-held request of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The White House said it played no role in the parole decision, but speculation that it was tied to the Iran nuclear deal abounds. Republican Rep. Mark Meadows motioned Tuesday to overthrow Speaker of the House John Boehner amid frequent clashes between the GOP leader and the conservative wing of his conference. The motion is all-but-certain to fail, but it is another embarrassment to Boehner.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is signaling he will leave the Florida primary to the dueling campaigns of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio. The two native sons are locked in a pitched battle for the state’s delegates, and the outcome on March 15 may be one of the most decisive moments of next year’s primary season. Rubio, for his part, is laying low during a season of candidates making more and more outlandish statements to get attention. Content with running below the radar, the freshman senator with broad appeal needs to pick his moment to break out — and hope that his would-be supporters are still around.

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Marco Rubio Takes Low-Key Approach

But when will he break out? [New York Times]

GOP congressman launches bid to oust John Boehner as House speaker

A mutiny attempt on the House floor [Washington Post]

Israeli Spy Pollard Will Be Released by U.S. in November
The White House says it was not a concession to Israel [Wall Street Journal]

Under Oath, Donald Trump Shows His Raw Side

Legal records paint unflattering portrait [New York Times]

Rand Paul defends campaign during N.H. swing

Stagnant, Paul says he’s playing the long game [Boston Globe]

What We Can Learn From Behind-the-Scenes Photos of Dick Cheney on 9/11

A never-before-seen look at a White House during crisis [TIME]

Sound Off

“Imagine a NASCAR driver mentally preparing for a race knowing one of the drivers will be drunk. That’s what prepping for this debate is like” —John Weaver, strategist for Ohio Gov. John Kasich on preparing for the GOP debate.

“This is President Obama’s decision and I’m not going to second-guess him. If it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question.” —Hillary Clinton, once again punting on the Keystone XL pipeline Tuesday.

Bits and Bites

Watch the Trailer for Michael Bay’s Benghazi Thriller ’13 Hours’ [Wall Street Journal]

Walker Tells Private Group He’ll Skip Florida Primary [RealClearPolitics]

The Kochs freeze out Donald Trump [Politico]

White House Responds to Petition Urging Obama to Pardon Edward Snowden [TIME]

Former members of Congress not invited to pope’s speech [Washington Post]

Small Businesses Bear Burden of Ex-Im Bank Shutdown [Wall Street Journal]

Feds call meeting with Christie and Cuomo to discuss new transit tunnel [Bergen Record]

The Unique Challenges of Vetting Hillary Clinton’s Email [Wall Street Journal]

 

TIME 2016 Election

Trump Would ‘Love’ To Have Palin in His Administration

'She’s really a special person,' Trump said

Donald Trump would consider tapping former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to serve in his administration, the billionaire presidential candidate said this week.

Asked during an interview with Kevin Scholla on talk radio show The Palin Update whether he would consider asking Palin to serve in “some official capacity,” Trump replied enthusiastically.“I’d love that,” he said. “Because she really is somebody who knows what’s happening and she’s a special person, she’s really a special person and I think people know that.”

In the interview, Trump said that both he and Palin had been victims of unfair attacks from the media. Trump said he looks at Palin’s ability to handle such coverage with admiration. “She took so much nonsense, lies and disgusting lies,” Trump said. “She handles it so well. She’s tough and smart and just a great woman so it’s an honor to be with you today.”

Palin has also praised Trump in recent weeks. After Trump questioned Senator John McCain’s status as a war hero, Palin said that both men are heroes. “I have the good fortune of knowing both John McCain and Donald Trump well,” Palin told CNN. “Both men have more in common than the today’s media hype would have you believe. Both blazed trails in their careers and love our great nation.”

TIME 2016 Election

Donald Trump on Lawyer’s Rape Remarks: ‘He’s Speaking for Himself’

Trump blasted his aide's comment that "you cannot rape your spouse"

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump distanced himself on Tuesday from his lawyer and top aide, Michael Cohen, who had sparked controversy for saying sexual intercourse with a spouse can never legally be considered rape.

“When I first saw [Cohen make the comments] I said, ‘Wow.’ You know it is something I disagree with. But that’s the way it is. He’s speaking for himself. He’s not speaking for me obviously,” Trump said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.

Spousal rape has been against the law in all 50 states since the early 1990s.

Cohen apologized earlier Tuesday for his remarks, which were a response to a reporter’s question about a 1989 allegation against Trump that was later retracted.

In my moment of shock and anger, I made an inarticulate comment — which I do not believe — and which I apologize for entirely,” he said.

“You have to understand Michael was extremely angry,” Trump said, echoing his special counsel’s apology. “Who knows what he said. … But assuming he said it, yeah, I disagree with that.”

[CNN]

TIME Congress

Conservative Congressman Seeks to Remove John Boehner from Speaker’s Chair

House Speaker John Boehner
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) arrives for his weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center February 26, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Rep. Mark Meadows' move is largely symbolic

(WASHINGTON) — A conservative Republican who was disciplined earlier this year by House Speaker John Boehner is pushing a largely symbolic effort to strip the Ohio Republican of his position.

Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina on Tuesday filed a resolution to vacate the chair, an initial procedural step. The proposal was referred to a committee stocked with leadership loyalists, and it is unlikely to emerge. The move, however, reflected the discontent among the more conservative wing of the House GOP, whose members have been frustrated with leaders’ willingness to compromise on some legislation.

The resolution said Boehner “has endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent.”

It also accused the speaker of causing “the power of Congress to atrophy, thereby making Congress subservient to the Executive and Judicial branches, diminishing the voice of the American People.” And it said Boehner”uses the power of the office to punish members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker.”

Last month, the leadership briefly stripped Meadows of his subcommittee chairmanship over his votes but later relented after conservatives objected.

Boehner’s office had no comment.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., dismissed the resolution and Meadows’ move.

“You don’t raise any money, you need a way to raise money, you do gimmicks like this,” said Nunes, who is close to Boehner.

But Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., who has experienced the wrath of the leadership and is a Boehner foe, complained that the leaders is “not listening to the American people.” He faulted leaders for not allowing quick votes against same-sex marriage and federal money for Planned Parenthood.

“He just has the courage to do something about it,” Jones said of Meadows, a two-term lawmaker who was elected in the tea party-backed 2010 class.

TIME Congress

John Kerry Urges Congress to Support Iran Nuclear Deal

Congress has begun a 60-day review of the international agreement

(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State John Kerry warned skeptical lawmakers not to nix the contentious nuclear deal with Iran, insisting that it includes strict inspections and other safeguards to deter cheating by Tehran.

“If Congress does not support the deal, we would see this deal die — with no other options,” Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday as he testified for the second time in a week, part of the Obama administration’s all-out campaign to sell the accord.

Kerry spoke as the administration picked up critical support for the deal from Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., a strong supporter of Israel who referred to his Jewish background in announcing his decision.

“I believe the agreement offers the best option to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Levin said in a statement circulated by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who is leading the effort to round up Democratic support for the deal in the House.

Congress has begun a 60-day review of the international agreement that curbs Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from sanctions stifling its economy. All members must weigh the deal, but it’s especially a tough decision for those who have a large number of Jewish constituencies because Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called it a “historic mistake.”

“I believe that Israel, the region and the world are far more secure if Iran does not move toward possession of a nuclear weapon,” Kerry told members who, at times, blasted the deal.

“Iran has cheated on every agreement they’ve signed,” said Rep. Ed Royce, the panel’s chairman. With Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew waiting to testify, he asked if Tehran “has earned the right to be trusted” given its history.

Few, if any, new details emerged from the more than three-hour hearing. Some committee members asked the three officials questions, while others used their time to read lengthy statements in opposition. That left Kerry visibly frustrated and several times he accused the members of misconstruing or misunderstanding the details of the agreement.

“Nothing in this deal is built on trust. Nothing,” Kerry said.

Kerry was asked what would prevent Iran from adhering to the agreement for a short time, and then, in effect, take the money and run toward building an atomic bomb.

Kerry said that was not a likely scenario. He said the Iranian government is under pressure to improve the economy in their country where half the population is under 30 years of age and wants jobs. And he defended the inspection protocol under the agreement, arguing that if Iran tries to develop a nuclear weapon covertly, the international community will know.

“They can’t do that. Because the red flags that would go off — the bells and whistles that would start chiming — as a result of any movement away from what they have to do” to meet their obligations under the agreement, Kerry said.

Faced with Republican majorities in both houses, the administration’s objective was to line up enough support for Obama among Democrats in what is all but certain to become a veto fight this fall.

Congress is expected to vote in September to prevent Obama from lifting sanctions imposed previously by lawmakers, a step that would likely cause Iran to walk away from the agreement. Obama has said he will veto any bill along those lines, and Republicans will need a two-thirds majority in both houses to override his objections.

Apart from Royce, the panel’s senior Democrat expressed reservations about the plan. Rep. Eliot Engel of New York said he has “serious questions and concerns about this deal.”

Engel is a strong supporter of Israel, which vociferously opposes the agreement. Iran has said it wants to wipe out Israel.

The hearing unfolded as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobby, dispatched hundreds of its members to prod lawmakers to disapprove of the deal.

On the other side of the issue, seven former U.S. diplomats and State Department officials sent a letter Monday to leaders in Congress urging them to support the pact.

While lawmakers debated the implications of the deal, officials from member nations of the International Atomic Energy Agency told The Associated Press that Iran may be allowed to take soil samples at the Parchin military complex that is suspected as a site of nuclear weapon research, but only under monitoring by outside experts.

The officials said stringent oversight of the soil-sampling could include video monitoring. The samples would be analyzed by the agency for traces left by any nuclear experiments. The disclosures come from IAEA member nations and are tasked with following Iran’s nuclear program. They demanded anonymity because their information is confidential. The IAEA had no immediate comment.

Tehran insists Parchin is a conventional military area with no link to nuclear tests.

___

Associated Press writer George Jahn in Vienna contributed to this report.

TIME justice

Obama Administration Could Expand Pell Grant Eligibility to Prisoners

Arne Duncan Obama prisoners pell grants
Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images Secretary of Education Arne Duncan with President Obama at the White House, in March 2015.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan hinted recently that administration is “developing experimental sites” that would make Pell Grants available to prisoners

The Obama administration could soon unveil a plan that would make federal college grants available to prisoners.

On Monday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hinted during a policy speech that the administration is “developing experimental sites” that would, among other things, make Pell Grants available to “incarcerated adults seeking an independent, productive life after they get out of jail.”

The Wall Street Journal reports the announcement could come as soon as Friday, when Duncan and Attorney General Loretta Lynch are slated to make a joint appearance at a prison in Maryland on Friday.

The move would be the latest attempt by the Obama administration to provide opportunities to prisoners that could help reduce the national recidivism rate. According to Inside Higher Ed, six House Democrats introduced a bill in May that would expand Pell Grant eligibility to those behind bars. Congress blocked prisoners from Pell Grant eligibility in the 1990s.

TIME Personal Finance

Donald Trump Probably Has Less Money Than You Think

Donald Trump Makes Announcement At Trump Tower
Christopher Gregory—Getty Images Business mogul Donald Trump points as he gives a speech as he announces his candidacy for the U.S. presidency at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015 in New York City. Trump is the 12th

But it's still a lot

Donald Trump’s self-valuation of “in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS” could be based on a lot of hot air, according to a new analysis.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates the real estate mogul’s value at $2.9 billion, a valuation that leaves Trump off the site’s top 200 billionaires list. Instead, with a $2.9 billion net worth, Trump is in leagues with lesser-known billionaires, like pet food mogul Clayton Mathile or Panda Express founders Andrew and Peggy Cherng.

According to the Bloomberg finding, which leaned on the financial disclosure form Trump filed as a requirement tied to his presidential run, most of Trump’s wealth comes from real estate holdings. Those assets include golf courses and resort properties, as well as a handful of Manhattan skyscrapers.

The report estimated wealth conservatively, valuing the real estate only on the income it produces. “It doesn’t value Trump’s brand beyond accounting for cash held in accounts for his licensing deals and business partnerships,” Bloomberg noted.

For now, Trump’s big-money claims seem to be helping him stay atop GOP presidential polls despite his often controversial claims about immigrants, fellow Republicans and other targets.

 

TIME

Poll: Over Half of Americans Are Not Buying the Iran Deal

New CNN poll shows a little over half of Americans want Congress to reject the deal

The Obama Administration’s efforts to sell the Iran nuclear deal to the American public aren’t going over so well, according to a new poll that suggests slightly more than half of all Americans want Congress to reject it.

According to the CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday, 52% of Americans want Congress to vote against the nuclear deal with Iran, while 44% say lawmakers should approve it. Two-thirds (66%) of Republicans called for the deal to be blocked, while 61% of Democrats said it should be approved. Among self-described Independents, 55% want Congress to vote it down.

While the CNN poll could signal there’s more work to be done by the Obama administration to sell the deal, as Vox shows, previous polls indicate varying support for the deal among Americans. A recent Washington Post/ABC poll found that while 56% of Americans surveyed supported the deal, 52% didn’t approve of the president’s “handling of the situation with Iran.” A Pew survey found that 48% of Americans who were aware of the deal disapprove of it, while 38% approve.

Since world leaders reached the historic deal on Iran’s nuclear program in mid-July the Obama administration has been on the offensive trying to get everyday Americans to back the deal. President Obama has talked it up on stops in Africa, during a speech before veterans and an appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and he attempted to address a range of concerns during an hour-long press conference at the White House.

Vice President Joe Biden and various cabinet secretaries have also made appearances on Capitol Hill in attempts to rally support for the deal among members of Congress, which was given 60 days to review the deal before a vote to approve or reject it. President Obama has said he would veto any attempt by Congress to block the bill.

1,017 American adults were contacted via telephone between July 22 and 25 for the CNN/ORC International poll. That group included 898 registered voters. The poll’s results for all American adults have a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

[CNN]

TIME Lincoln Chafee

Lincoln Chafee Has A Lot of Nice Things to Say About Republicans

Michael Bonfigli—The Christian Science Monitor Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee speaks in Washington, D.C. on July 28, 2015.

For someone running for the Democratic nomination for President, Lincoln Chafee has a lot of nice things to say about Republicans.

That may be because he used to be one: Chafee was a Republican Senator from Rhode Island from 1999 to 2007, then an Independent for the beginning of his tenure as Governor of the state from 2011 to 2015, finally switching his party affiliation to Democrat in 2013.

But even as he seeks the Democratic nomination against political juggernaut Hillary Clinton and populist wunderkind Bernie Sanders, Chafee still has plenty of kind words for his former party. Speaking at a breakfast in Washington, D.C., Tuesday morning, Chafee cited two Republicans as his favorite modern Presidents.

“Theodore Roosevelt, certainly I think I compare favorably to him saying ‘speak softly and carry a big stick,'” Chafee said, citing his quiet courage as similar to the trust-busting Republican’s.

When asked to name a more recent President, Chafee went with another Republican, George H. W. Bush. “I do admire courage in politics, and guts and backbone,” he said. “[George] H. W. Bush [addressed] the real issue of deficits … He knew the political sacrifice that was going to come.”

He mentioned a Democratic President as well: Bill Clinton, who happens to be the husband of his most formidable primary opponent. “Bill Clinton putting in his deficit reduction plan, that took guts,” he said.

Chafee also spoke fondly of another Bush: Jeb, his potential 2016 rival and a high school classmate from Andover boarding school in Massachusetts in the 1960s.

“We were in a small dorm… so we knew each other well and played ping pong in the basement,” Chafee said. “Our dads talked politics, and [it was 1968 and 1969] so a lot of changes were happening in the country in those years, so just naturally politics was very much in many students minds. … We tended naturally to support our fathers.”

Bush’s father was George H.W. Bush, who would go on to be elected President in 1989; Chafee’s father was John Chafee, the Governor of Rhode Island who became a Republican Senator from the state in 1976.

But Chafee wasn’t entirely complimentary of the GOP, returning to his main talking point in the primaries: the fact that most members of his former party in Congress (as well as Hillary Clinton) voted for the Iraq war in 2002, while he voted against.

“I think it’s important for the Democratic party to make this chaos in the Middle East a Republican chaos,” he said. “They were the ones that created Iraq and created all the problems now… ISIS, Boko Haram in Nigeria, it all started with the invasion of Iraq. Politically speaking, the Democratic party needs to show that’s a Republican mistake.”

Chafee is polling within the margin of error in most national polls: a recent Monmouth University poll had him at 0%, with a 5.2% margin of error.

Read Next: Lincoln Chafee Is Trying to Re-Run Obama’s 2008 Playbook

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