After declining for months to announce her position on a major Canada-to-US oil pipeline, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that she is opposed to the controversial project.
As secretary of state, Clinton presided over years of study of the Keystone XL pipeline that would send Canadian crude oil to US refineries. The project is vehemently opposed by environmental groups and liberal Democrats.
Clinton had used her former position as a rationale for not weighing in, saying she wanted President Barack Obama's administration to finalize its assessment on the project.
But during a campaign event in Iowa, she described Keystone as "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."
"Therefore, I oppose it," she said.
The 1,179-mile (1,900-kilometer) TransCanada-built pipeline would transport crude from oil sands in energy-rich Alberta province to a network of pipelines that reach across the United States to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.
Because the project crosses a border, the US State Department must give its approval first, but the case is still being studied -- nearly seven years after TransCanada made its first request.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who is challenging Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016, has been opposed to the project for months and has chided Clinton for her indecision.
"I'm glad that Hillary Clinton finally has made a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline and I welcome her opposition," Sanders posted on Twitter.