As the 2016 Presidential Race winds down, the October Surprise for the Clinton Campaign has been the release of hacked emails from campaign manager John Podesta, which include transcripts of private speeches and direct correspondence between top campaign staffers and donors.
With energy issues remaining largely on the sidelines of this year’s campaign, the email leak has provided a behind-the-scenes look into Hillary Clinton’s views on high profile energy issues, including fracking, the Keystone XL Pipeline, environmental protestors and energy geopolitics—including references to direct terror funding from the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
On the issue of fracking, opponent Bernie Sanders pulled Clinton to the left during the primary campaign by vowing to ban the practice outright. In response, Clinton said that she would crack down on the practice even though the executive branch largely lacks authority on the issue. Emails from a September 2015 meeting with a construction union show that Clinton criticized fervor over the Keystone Pipeline as “symbolic” and argued, “My view is I want to defend natural gas. I want to defend repairing and building the pipelines we need to fuel our economy. I want to defend fracking under the right circumstances…I want to defend this stuff.”
It’s important to note that Clinton’s statements are not directly inconsistent with her position during the campaign, which argued for a measured approach to fracking that took local bans into consideration.
On environmental protestors, she said, “They come to my rallies and they yell at me and, you know, all the rest of it. They say, ‘Will you promise never to take any fossil fuels out of the earth ever again?’ No. I won’t promise that. Get a life.”
In an April 2013 speech to Deutsche Bank, Clinton is also quoted as saying, “I’ve promoted fracking in other places around the world. I am an all-in kind of person, all-of-the-above kind of person when it comes to America’s energy and environmental future.”
Surging domestic oil production through fracking helped reduce U.S. oil imports by 30 percent from 2007 to 2015, largely from West African producers. The emails also show that the campaign recognized the particular challenge of displacing oil in transportation. After Martin O’Malley’s campaign proposed phasing out all fossil fuels by 2050, staffers went back and forth on the plan’s viability. Podesta apparently said that while it wouldn’t be worth fighting with O’Malley on the issue, it would be “hard to get all the oil out [of the transport sector].”
It’s common knowledge that oil-rich Gulf states are home to citizens who support terror groups, but a 2014 email between Hillary Clinton and John Podesta suggests the Saudi and Kuwaiti Governments have played a direct role in recent years.
In addition to domestic energy policy, the emails also touch on energy geopolitics. It’s common knowledge that energy-rich Gulf States including Saudi Arabia and Qatar are often home to wealthy citizens who provide financial support to terror groups, including ISIS. But experts typically agree that while governments of those countries often turn a blind eye to such activities, they do not provide direct financial funding. A 2014 email exchange between Podesta and Clinton on strategy to fight ISIS suggests otherwise, stating, “While this military/para-military operation is moving forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”
The relationship between the Gulf oil exporting countries and radical terror groups is referenced repeatedly throughout the emails. A classified 2009 cable signed by Clinton when she was Secretary of State acknowledged, “Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide. Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, [Lashkar-e-Taiba], and other terrorist groups,” the memo reads. “It has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority.”