After months of being hounded on the campaign trail to take a position on the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that she is opposed to the project and had delayed taking a position to avoid interfering with the Obama administration.

Clinton told an audience in Des Moines, IA, that she had been “in a unique position” during her tenure as secretary of state to begin the review of the project. She said she had been avoiding the issue until now so as not to interfere with “the ongoing decision-making” by President Obama and current Secretary of State John Kerry.

“I thought this would be decided by now, and therefore I could tell you whether I agreed or I disagreed,” Clinton said. “But it hasn’t been decided, and I feel now I’ve got a responsibility to you and other voters who ask me about this…I oppose [the pipeline] because I don’t think it’s in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change.”

The State Department is at the center of the debate over the pipeline because it would cross the U.S.-Canada border and therefore needs a presidential permit to proceed (see Shale Daily, April 21, 2014; March 4, 2013). But last January, a State Department spokesperson said the department was not ready to release the results of its review of the pipeline and declined to give a timeline of when a decision would be finalized (see Shale Daily, Jan. 13).

Other Democratic candidates, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, have previously announced opposition to the pipeline. Meanwhile, the entire field of Republican candidates for president has voiced support for the project.

Supporters of the pipeline blasted Clinton for her position. “Hillary Clinton’s decision to oppose Keystone is a missed opportunity to seize the true potential of our energy renaissance,” American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard said Tuesday. “It is most unfortunate for American workers and consumers that she has joined the forces of delay and denial.”

TransCanada Corp. has proposed building and operating the pipeline, which would run from Alberta to the Gulf Coast and transport 830,000 b/d to U.S. refineries, including 100,000 b/d from the Bakken Shale (see Shale Daily, May 7, 2012).

Last February, Obama vetoed a bill championed by Republicans that would have authorized construction of the pipeline (see Daily GPI, Feb. 24). An attempt to override the veto failed in the Republican-controlled Senate, mustering a 62-37 vote on March 4.