WASHINGTON Oct 7 Democratic presidential
hopeful Hillary Clinton struggled with how to secure the
endorsement of labor unions while announcing her opposition to
the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a project they supported but
environmentalists opposed, according to leaked emails published
by Wikileaks on Friday.
Before announcing in September 2015 that she opposed
TransCanada Corp's proposal to build a pipeline from
Canada to the United States, her campaign sought to "soften the
blow" to labor unions by offering an energy infrastructure plan
that would create jobs, according to the emails.
The internal campaign emails from August 2015 reveal the
difficulty Clinton had in appeasing both unions and
environmentalists as she fought for her party's nomination ahead
of the Nov. 8 election.
Wikileaks published the Clinton emails just hours after the
U.S. government accused Russia of a campaign of cyber attacks
against Democratic Party organizations.
In the emails, Clinton advisers discussed how to frame the
candidate's "energy infrastructure" plan, which would call for
replacing old pipelines, repairing rail tracks and improving the
electric grid in a way that would appeal to labor unions, who
had yet to endorse her at that stage.
"Could we mention that ... as we transition HRC wants to
create more careers within the new energy economy? Careers is
their buzz word," wrote Nikki Budzinski, labor outreach director
for Hillary for America.
Clinton had long avoided taking a firm position on Keystone,
which had been pending for seven years, as she sought her
party's nomination last year. As secretary of state, Clinton
said in 2010 she was inclined to approve it.
Rival Senator Bernie Sanders had been a staunch opponent of
the pipeline. President Barack Obama did not reject the pipeline
until November 2015.
Labor unions have pushed for approval of the pipeline,
saying it would create thousands of construction jobs while
environmentalists opposed it because it would increase
greenhouse gas emissions from Canada's oil sands.
The emails show that North America's Building Trades,
representing builders and construction workers, contacted the
campaign after hearing that Obama would announce his denial of
the pipeline in late August and that Clinton would say she
"encouraged" him to make the decision.
"We are so close to getting bldg (sic) trades
and if we do this right, it will be ok even though they won't
like it," wrote Amanda Renteria, the campaign's national
The Building Trades union endorsed Clinton in November and
the Laborers' International Union of North America endorsed
Clinton in December.
Clinton's struggle to please both green and labor groups is
likely to emerge as a key challenge if she is to win the
A decision over another pipeline, the Dakota Access, has
sparked major protests from Native American and environmental
The Obama administration temporarily halted construction,
"These types of decisions made by this administration get
dumped in the presidential race and it's kind of unfair," Sean
McGarvey, president of North America's Building Trades Unions,
told Reuters in an interview last month.
"We don't like all of Clinton's energy policies but we think
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)