When it comes to the Dakota Access Pipeline there are no easy answers for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And as violence and outrage ratchets up, so do the political stakes for Clinton just days out from a presidential election. What is Hillary Clinton's stance on Standing Rock? She's not really taking one, despite pressure from all sides of the issue.
On one side are the unions, who want the jobs the pipeline project would bring, and on the other are environmentalists and Native American activists who say the Dakota Access Pipeline construction violates sacred lands and could cause water pollution, according to NBC News. Both groups are looking to Clinton to come down on the issue, but in the heat of an election, social justice concerns take a back seat to politics.
"If Clinton thought Keystone was bad, get ready for Dakota Access," said Jamie Henn, a co-founder of the environmental group 350 Action, which endorsed Clinton told NBC News. "This is an issue that is not going away. She's triangulating and you shouldn't triangulate on issues of social justice."
But one look at the statement the Clinton campaign put out in response to the Dakota Access Pipeline tells you everything you need to know about where she stands: everyone needs to calm down and work together here, because she's got an election to worry about right now.
Here's part of the statement from Clinton spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa, according to The Hill:
We received a letter today from representatives of the tribes protesting the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. Now, all of the parties involved — including the federal government, the pipeline company and contractors, the state of North Dakota, and the tribes — need to find a path forward that serves the broadest public interest.
That middle-of-the-road politicking didn't sit well with one Native American youth group who set up a tee pee in the entrance of Clinton's campaign headquarters to protest the pipeline and her lack of advocacy on behalf of the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, according to The Root.
Making her look even more like a calculating politician rather than a champion for the everyday American is that Clinton's primary opponent Bernie Sanders has been an outspoken critic of the pipeline. Here's just part of Sanders' statement on DAPL from his own site:
Regardless of the court’s decision, the Dakota Access pipeline must be stopped. As a nation, our job is to break our addiction to fossil fuels, not increase our dependence on oil. I join with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many tribal nations fighting this dangerous pipeline
President Obama has come out on the side of the tribe, asking the company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners to hold off while the Army Corps of Engineers looks for a way to reroute the pipeline, according to NPR. Obama said in a recent interview with Now This:
I think right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline in a way. So we're going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of the first Americans.
But he's not trying to get elected to the White House again. Because while that sounds like a perfectly reasonable request, an Energy Partners spokeswoman Vicki Granado didn't seem interested in a compromise, telling NPR, "We are not aware that any consideration is being given to a reroute, and we remain confident we will receive our easement in a timely fashion."
This issue is big, complicated, and isn't going away anytime soon. Clinton will have a tough choice ahead of her, but there's no sign she's prepared to do anything until after the election on Nov. 8.