UPDATE (Thursday, September 24, 2015): At a campaign event in Iowa on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton came out against the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, saying, "I oppose it because I don't think it's in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change."

Clinton's announcement came four days after eight members of Bowdoin Climate Action (BCA) disrupted her speech in Portland last Friday as part of a months-long movement by climate activists across the country designed to push Clinton toward declaring a position against the pipeline. 

"This is a huge victory for all of the people who had been organizing to push her for months and months and for the movement who's been pushing on Keystone since 2011. It's actually proof that taking that kind of action does work," said BCA president Allyson Gross '16 in an interview with the Orient.

Clinton had long voiced a desire to wait until the White House made a decision about its position on the pipeline, but ultimately chose to articulate her position before the president did.

"It was actually pretty surreal and wonderful to hear," Gross said. "It had been happening all summer—she had continually said no, or she wouldn't talk about it until later. For me to be the last person she said no to was a weird feeling, but a good one."

This article appears in its original form below.

Several members of Bowdoin Climate Action (BCA) disrupted a campaign speech by Hillary Clinton on Friday afternoon in an effort to push her to take a stance on the construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The speech was given at an event, billed by the Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign as a “Grassroots Organizing Meeting,” held in a gymnasium at King Middle School in Portland. After Clinton first mentioned climate change in her speech, the BCA protesters stood and held signs calling for her to oppose the proposed pipeline, which would transport oil from tar sands in Canada across the midwestern United States to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

“Yes, I’ve said I’m going to be talking about that. It’ll be soon. Just sit down,” Clinton said in response. The protesters remained standing while the speech continued until Clinton again asked them to sit down, at which point Allyson Gross ’16 asked Clinton her position on the pipeline.

“What I have said is you will hear from me shortly, and you will,” Clinton responded. “But you’re not going to hear from me today, so don’t interfere with other people being able to participate, okay?”

A video of the exchange is available on BCA’s Facebook page. Afterward, the protesters left the crowd and stood in the back of the room. Gross was joined by current students Julia Mead ’16, Julia Berkman-Hill ’17, Arnav Patel ’18, Maya Morduch-Toubman ’18, Jonah Watt ’18 and Maddie Lemal-Brown ’18. Recent graduate Matt Goodrich ’15 also took part.

“If I’m putting pressure on my campus to take action on climate by divesting, I expect the same action from Hillary Clinton or any presidential candidate that wins the nomination,” said Gross.

For many BCA members and other activists, the pipeline has become a barometer for determining where a candidate stands on the extraction of fossil fuels.

“I feel that to truly combat climate change, we need to fight it at the root, and the underlying cause is the fossil fuel industry and fossil fuel dependence,” said Patel. “A good indicator on where she stands on dealing with that issue is her stance on Keystone XL.”

Clinton has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks to voice a stance on the controversial pipeline. She has said she will wait for the Obama administration to make a decision, but on Thursday said that she “can’t wait much longer.”

“This action didn’t happen in a vacuum,” Gross said. “It’s been happening all across New Hampshire and all across the country this summer...and to catch her off guard in this state where she didn’t think this would be happening would be crucial.”

While members were disappointed that Clinton declined to articulate a position, they said it was expected.

“I feel like we did what we needed to do to push her towards taking a stand as the only presidential candidate who hasn’t taken a stand yet,” said Berkman-Hill.

BCA is perhaps best known on campus for its visible calls for the College to divest from fossil fuels, including a controversial petition presented to President Mills in April 2014 and a sit-in at the president’s office last April.

However, the group has involved itself in national issues, as well. Several members were arrested in March 2014 at a Keystone XL protest in Washington, D.C., and the group organized a trip to the People’s Climate March last fall.

Members saw this event as another opportunity to connect their work on campus to the national political scene.

“I think something that’s really interesting about divestment is that people think you go around the political arena,” said Gross, “[but] the point is that you build power on campus and shift public discussion on support for fossil fuel industries, and use that to pressure presidential candidates and actual power holders to do their job by taking action on climate.”

“We’re not really surprised that she dodged our question with promises for renewable energy, as Bowdoin has been doing,” said Watt. “While we definitely commend these efforts and we think that’s important, we’re still out here fighting and we think it’s important to say that it’s only part of the solution.”