All-Star Panel: What's the holdup on the Keystone pipeline?

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 18, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


GARY DOER, CANADIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Twenty people protesting do get more attention in the media than the 65 percent of Americans that prefer to get their oil from Canada rather than Venezuela or the Middle East. So am I concerned about the fact the media will go with the picture as opposed to sometimes logic? That's just part of how issues are covered. But when you look at it, public opinion supports it. Unions want the jobs, need the jobs. A vote in the House about 18 months ago was very much in favor of this. A vote in the Senate last year was 56-42.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: The Canadian ambassador talking about the Keystone XL pipeline which still is in limbo, saying the U.S. should want oil from a reliable ally. And there you see the chart about the gas prices going up actually prices have now increased 32 days in a row, jumping 43 cents a gallon since mid- January, 15 cents a gallon in just the past week, continuing to rise.

We're back with the panel. Charles, what about this? Obviously there are different causes for gas prices to go up, seasonally, mixing different fuel additives, that sort of thing. But also in the context of the Keystone XL pipeline debate, it's an interesting timing.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, you know, the president is in his second term.  Normally, you then can put aside political or partisan considerations. You are not going to be re-elected and you would act in the national interest.

The Keystone issue is the most open and shut case I have ever seen. Not only will it reduce our dependence on Hugo Chavez and the Middle East if we get it from Canada, and not only would it be an insult if we, sort of, slam the door on Canada, our closest ally, but refusing the pipeline or not building it would have absolutely zero effect on the environment. The Canadians have stumbled on the largest reserve of shale oil around. They are the Saudi Arabia of shale. They are not going to keep it in the ground if we don't input it. It's going to go to China. They have said so. So it will have zero effect on the climate, global warming, whatever you want.

The fact that Obama is still mulling over this -- I can understand last year he wanted to hold his left wing base. He wanted re-election. But now after he has won re-election? It shows how -- if he refuses it, which I think is still possible, it will really show how partisan considerations way outweigh the national interest. I think it would be shocking.

BAIER: Secretary Kerry, now secretary of state, said an announcement will come in the near term, saying it won't be long. In the near term is what he said, Juan. How do you think this will go?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: I think they are leaning toward approving it. I think it's a real disappointment if that is the case for so many of the people, young people who poured into town over the weekend to protest this. And they are concerned about climate change, they are concerned about the gases that are emitted. Charles says it's a fact anyway even if he doesn't approve it, but when you consider it's a very dirty process that we are talking about -- extracting it from the sands. And then, of course, there had to be approval of the route through the U.S. and the question of how would it affect – especially like the aquifer in Nebraska. That is why the governor had to look at another route.

You understand why there are people who are concerned about this and see if this as part of what should be President Obama's effort and his legacy to limit greenhouse gases that are causing global warming. But I think that right now it's just what you heard the ambassador from Canada say. It's not just that the public is with it, the big unions are behind it for the jobs, Exxon, Mobile, all the big lobbyists in town are behind this. And of course you could have Canada retaliate in terms buying F-16s and all that.

BAIER: So you say he disappoints the environmentalists?

WILLIAMS: I think that's likely, it's not a done deal at this point but that is the way the wind is blowing.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I'm not sure. I think you have to go back and look at the view of the environmentalists with respect to climate change. They don't want the price of oil to come down. They want it to stay high. We heard this from Steven Chu before, he was secretary of energy. You hear it from the environmentalists, you heard it on the mall this weekend. That is a goal. They believe that if oil prices stay high it will lead to the less consumption of fossil fuels and it will by itself have an effect on climate change.

Now, I think they are wrong and crazy for the reasons that Charles suggests. And you can even make an argument that by building the pipeline in the short term you would actually reduce carbon emissions because you would be transporting this oil in a pipeline. You wouldn't be doing it via tankers -- sending tankers here and then back empty to the Middle East. You can make that short-term argument. I think the bottom line and what people have missed, I think, in most of this debate is fundamentally that the left does not want oil prices to be lower, period.

BAIER: But they also don't want fracking where natural gas is very low, the price of natural gas is low. So oil prices high. What do the environmentalists want do you think?

KRAUTHAMMER: Windmills and sun and algae. That is especially how they want to live. Coal is already dead. The next target will be fracking.  And if you don't build a pipeline, if they imagine that the oil is not going to be exploited in Canada, they are ridiculous. It will be exploited and end up in China instead.

BAIER: That is it for panel. But stay tuned for a unified team effort to really get the job done. 

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