Staying mum on Keystone may hurt Clinton with greens

Hillary Clinton may find herself in time out with affluent Democratic environmentalists after staying mum on the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Clinton wouldn't say whether she supported or opposed the controversial $5.4 billion project when asked a direct question about it earlier this month at an event in Vancouver.

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"She’s kind of a closed book on the environment,” said Guy Saperstein, an Oakland-based venture capitalist and former president of the San Francisco-based Sierra Club Foundation told Bloomberg News. “I, for one, would not support her until she gives us more information.”

“She could be a leader on Keystone if she wanted to be,” Saperstein said. “This is a great opportunity for her to show a little courage.”

Coming out one way or another on the oil-sands pipeline, which would carry crude from Alberta to Gulf refineries, is risky for the possible 2016 presidential hopeful.

While giving her an edge in to secure the Democratic bid among environmentalists like Tom Steyer, who are willing to throw political muscle behind Keystone XL opponents, it could hurt her in the general election.

But Steyer has yet to publicly endorse Clinton, although his super-PAC has said it will be in the forefront come 2014 and 2016.

Democratic strategists are also working to keep environmentalists behind Clinton, as she is the party nominee favorite despite polls.

“Many of Mrs. Clinton’s most prominent supporters hope she will acknowledge the rapidly changing data on climate disruption,” Betsy Taylor, a political strategist working with green groups and donors, told Bloomberg News.

“New data is in, and Hillary is a woman who respects the facts. We hope she’ll encourage the president to step up and deny this permit.”