Friday Lightning Round: Will Obama approve Keystone XL?

Panel sums up this week's hot topics


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," March 1, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Every week, we have the Friday Lightning Round. And here we are. The big story, Keystone XL pipeline, the State Department coming out with an environmental study saying essentially that it's environmentally sound. But it is not approving the project going forward. That has to do, that is falling to the president. And we don't have word that that has happened of yet. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce put out a statement saying, quote, "The environmental impact statement released today is long overdue, continues to build a strong case supporting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, It will create thousands of jobs and generate millions in revenue for states and local governments that badly need them."  The Sierra Club, you wouldn't be surprised, had a different take.  They're outraged by the "State Department's deeply flawed analysis today...Whether this failure was willful or accidental, this report is nothing short of malpractice. President Obama said that he's committed to fighting the climate crisis. If that is true, he should throw the State Department report away and reject the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL pipeline." We're back with the panel. We'll start there. Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yeah, the problem is all of these right wing, you know, oil types in the State Department who just ride roughshod over environmental concerns. This is the fourth iteration of this. We've been through this before. And despite all of the outside pressure, despite all of the lobbying from environmental groups there still isn't a major problem with the Keystone pipeline environmentally.

I think this makes it much more difficult for the president to reject it. He does ultimately have the final say. He is the only one who can make the determination as to whether this is in the national interest or not. And I think it increases the likelihood that he will approve it, although I will never be surprised if he didn't.

BAIER: Kirsten?

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: I'd be surprised if he didn't. I think he will throw the environmental people under the bus for jobs and unions. You know, the AFL- CIO has basically come out in support of this because of the jobs. And I think he probably just kicks this down the road until after the election, but I don't think there is any substantive reason to oppose it.

The climate change argument really doesn't work here because the gas is going to be -- the oil is going to be extracted and it's going to be refined somewhere.


POWERS: So it's not really -- it doesn't really have any, you know -- we can't really change that impact on it. We buy a lot of our gas from Canada, so, it's a pretty weak argument. And politically I don't think it's in Obama's interest to agree with them.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I agree. The State Department attempted it as a punt, but it completely undermines the main arguments against XL – the main argument. And it said, the report said it's not going to have any effect on the climate because, essentially, Canada is not going to leave it in the ground. So it doesn't end up here it will end up in China. So refusing it has zero effect on climate and that completely undermines any opposition argument.

BAIER: Secretary Kerry on his trip in Turkey today reacting to the prime minister in Turkey saying this -- Prime Minister Erdogan, quote, "Just as with Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it has become impossible not to see Islamophobia as a crime against humanity." Here is what Secretary Kerry said about that.


SEC. JOHN KERRY, STATE DEPARTMENT: We found it objectionable. But that said, that said, Turkey and Israel are both vital allies of the United States. It is essential that both Turkey and Israel find a way to take steps in order to bring about or to rekindle their historic cooperation. I think that is possible, but, obviously, we have to get beyond the kind of rhetoric that we have just seen recently.


BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: I'm glad the secretary of state said that, because his boss, the president, has extremely close relations with precisely the man who said that obscene attack on Zionism. And it said that Erdogan is Obama's closest friend if you like, or at least relationship among leaders in the world. I think it's disgraceful the way he has apologized or overlooked what Turkey has done internally in curbing the press. There are more journalists in jail in Turkey than anywhere, and the way he's sort of overlooked its relations -- its poisoned relations with Israel.

BAIER: Winner and loser? Winner first.

POWERS: Well, I'll go with my loser first. Bob Woodward I think was a loser this week for basically really exaggerating if not lying about the White House threatening him and then the e-mails were released and it was quite clear that that's not what happened. For winner, I would say the fight for gay marriage had a real step forward because of the amicus brief that was filed by a lot of leading conservatives.

BAIER: OK loser first.

HAYES: Loser first -- my loser is Graeme Zielinski, who is the official spokesman for the Wisconsin Democratic Party who today compared Governor Scott Walker to Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer. My winner is you, Bret Baier, and the show, and the staff for 50 months atop the ratings --

BAIER: Oh wow, a picture too.

HAYES: -- since coming. So big congratulations.

BAIER: Thank you, Steve. You get double winner loser time next time.  Sorry, Erdogan took up all your time.


KRAUTHAMMER: Well, after that, how do I top what he said and still remain on the show?

BAIER: You might be the loser this week.


BAIER: That's it for the panel, but stay tuned for a new spin on a familiar story.

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