Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton came out against a New Hampshire natural gas pipeline after privately telling trade unions she “does not oppose pipelines,” according to emails.
Environmentalists cheered Clinton’s opposition to the pipeline, which they saw as bad for the climate, but trade unions quickly contacted the campaign concerned the former secretary of state was “breaking to pressure” from activists.
“They are very upset,” Clinton’s lead union organizer Nikki Budzinski wrote to campaign staff in February, 2016, referring to Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA).
“Today, LIUNA is requesting that we put out a statement clarifying HRC’s position on the NED pipeline,” Budzinski wrote the day after the environmental group 350.org got Clinton to say “no” to supporting the NED pipeline.
“She has privately told the building trades that she does not oppose pipelines,” Budzinski wrote. “Can we outline instances where a pipeline would have her support?”
“They are also concerned that she committed to not making pipeline by pipeline decisions and it now appears she is breaking to pressure and doing just that,” she wrote, referring to LIUNA’s concern Clinton was turning against her broad support for pipelines.
“They also point out that they have refrained in states like NH, intentionally, from putting any pressure on her around energy (like having their members on rope lines) in order to be a good partner and not escalate the situation,” Budzinksi wrote.
The email chain is one of many released by WikiLeaks talking about how Clinton should broach energy issues to continue building trade union support. WikiLeaks published thousands of emails online hacked from the Gmail account of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.
One of the most damaging emails contained an excerpt from a speech to a trade association representing apartment building owners where Clinton said “you need both a public and a private position” to get things done in politics.
Leaked emails suggest this is how she handled energy infrastructure issues.
The Clinton campaign is treading carefully where it concerns energy issues, in particular pipelines. Clinton staffers discussed postponing the candidate’s oped announcing her opposition to the Keystone XL oil pipeline until after she had met with trade unions in early September, 2015.
Campaign staff also made a point of including a major infrastructure plan in Clinton’s anti-Keystone XL oped to “soften the blow” to unions supporting the project.
Clinton was asked by a college environmental activist in New Hampshire in February, 2o16, if she supported the pipeline. Clinton said “no.” Campaign staffers moved quickly to try and backtrack, arguing that “ambushed” answers don’t represent her platform.
“I’ve been coordinating very closely with Trevor, Kristina and the policy team on our energy platform and understand that HRC being ambushed on a rope line in NH is not a accurate portrayal of her energy platform,” Budzinski wrote of Clinton’s NED Pipeline comments.
“But I have run out of the options to hold off the frustration from the trades and I think its at a point where only HRC can clarify where she stands on some of these larger energy issues and/or clarify her position on pipelines and natural gas specifically,” she wrote. “These issues and some of our recent nuanced answers on energy are now being viewed as ‘cute’ by our labor partners in the building trades and it is impacting our labor support on the ground.”
“LIUNA has disengaged,” she wrote.
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