Washington (CNN) – Hillary Clinton didn't say Monday what she thinks the U.S. State Department should do on the Keystone XL pipeline, but the former secretary of state did give hope to both sides of the debate over the 1,179-mile-long project that would move oil from Canada to refineries in the United States.
Both pro- and anti-pipeline activists, for which there are many, will hear positive notes from Clinton's remarks at the Toronto event. While tweaking and heralding both positions, Clinton said she hoped the United States and Canada would not "put our relationship on the backs of this decision."
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"This is an issue that has become a proxy for everything," Clinton said. "It is truly, deeply held opposing positions and people who are for it are adamant that it is necessary and not only necessary but salutary and does help to lead to a closer energy relationship between our two countries."
Clinton then added that, "People who are against it believe it has to be stopped because when will we ever make the pivot away from fossil fuels if we don't stop now."
Then Clinton planted herself squarely in the middle of the two groups, telling an audience that "these are people making arguments in good faith," despite the fact that both side "may have some facts and not others."
Before her answer on Keystone, Clinton touted North American energy, stating that the region – including Mexico – can find common ground and unity around "clean renewable energy" and "energy efficiency efforts."
"I do believe that both Canada and the United States can become even richer, more prosperous, but also more environmentally sustainable by having a broad engagement over energy and climate and not focusing everything on this one decision," Clinton said.
For the last six months, Clinton has remained mum on the Keystone pipeline.
She mentions the issue a total of zero times in her book "Hard Choices," which she was touting at the event. And at past events, she has refused to comment because she feels it would be inappropriate given her predecessor, Secretary of State John Kerry, is tasked with deciding whether to approve the pipeline.
In an interview posted Sunday with The Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper, Clinton was asked what she personally believed about the pipeline. Her answer: "I can’t respond."
Republicans jumped on the comment, with the Republican National Committee blasting an email out to reporters sarcastically calling the refrain a "portrait of courage."
The pipeline has been a hot button issue since it was first proposed in 2008 and more recently as Obama and Kerry mull whether to approve the project.
Republicans have seized on the issue and have hammered Democrats for not approving what they argue is a way to stimulate jobs. Environmental groups contend that the pipeline would be harmful for the environment and just deepen the United States' dependence on fossil fuels.
Canadians support for the project is generally strong and a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found in March that 65% of Americans said it should be approved.
Clinton added that she did not see the issue as a "proxy" for U.S.-Canada relations, noting that "It is, after all, one pipeline."
"We already have a lot of pipelines that cross our borders," Clinton said. "Don't tell anybody, they might get upset, but indeed we do."
According to a 2013 Congressional Research Service report, there are a total of 46 operating pipelines that carry natural gas and oil between the United States and Canada.
Clinton was interviewed Monday by Frank McKenna, the deputy chairman of the Toronto-Dominion Bank. This is the second time McKenna has done a public interviewed Clinton and asked about Keystone.
In March, during an event closed to the press, Clinton told the audience that "it just wouldn’t be appropriate to comment" on Keystone, according to Iain Black, the president and CEO of the Vancouver Board of Trade, the group hosting the event.
Clinton's State Department was tasked with overseeing whether to approve the pipeline and in a 2010 speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Clinton said she was "inclined" to approve it, according to the Washington Post.