Ronan Farrow Daily   |  April 21, 2014

Keystone approval process stretched 5 years

Mark Halperin and Robert Costa weigh in on the latest delay to the approval process of the Keystone pipeline.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> we are back with mark and bob. they're going to be weighing in on today's heros and zeros. it's a good thing because we're posing it today as a question. today it's all about washington's least favorite political hot potato , keystone pipeline . there's an approval process that has stretch odd for five years. five years. five years, mark. it's likely going to place one of the president's most contentious environmental decisions after the november elections in november. they are saying the president is dragging his feet. mary landrieu said it's unnecessary and unacceptable. i get the accusations of political expeaedancy. everybody has kicked this can down the road. i was city state department when it was delayed out of hillary clinton 's tenure there, but here's the thing. in this particular case, there is a substantive reason to delay. they pretty much have to. it was triggered by a february ruling of a nebraska court which held that the authority to place the pipe was granted unconstitutionally under a law that appears to be rammed through by the canadian company by the keystone pipeline , transcanada, and which granted that company the ability to use evident domain to claim land for the project. that seems crazy to me. an appropriate reason to hit pause. gentlemen, what do you think? i'll start with you. robert , is this purely political?

>> i'm not going to judge the white house 's motivations. though, i do think it's going to provide an interesting opportunity for democrats like mary landrieu , mark baggich in alaska, and it's a difficult campaign year, and that's not the worst thing for them to have an adversary in the white house to truly put some distance between them and the left side of their party.

>> robert , don't you think in a case where a foreign company is claiming land willie nilly, potentially, that's the accusation of this court, for a major corporate profit for outside the u.s. interest, isn't that something that actually reinforces the case against this on a substantive level?

>> i think that's why studies are continuing, ronan, and that's why the white house is reluctant to make a decision. there's still a lot of complicating issues surrounding the pipeline. there is a political problem for democrats. will some democrats feel it creates distance from them and the white house ? sure. republicans now, someone like bill cass, he will have a significant issue to run on.

>> this is something that is split very much along party lines . mark, it's more than 70% of republicans polled and the latest numbers say they support the pipeline. obviously, they're a big economic reasons to do it. do you think it would be possible for the president to approve this, a, politically under the current climate, and, b, legally in light of this case? could he even issue the approval right now?

>> five years.

>> five years.

>> you know, this is a complicated issue. the baby cannot be split. we're building it or not. a lot of unions want to build it. it does provide public opinion polls, ut but you have a lot of constituencies on the right who would like to see this get done. i would like to know more about what the president actually thinks. if this is an important project that he is at least considering. jobs are involved. energy independence is involved. questions about the environment are involved. i would like to hear the president say, you know what, we've had five years of study. let's figure it out and let's do it. let me be sdis he have. we're either going to build it and start getting the jobs in the pipeline, or we're not going to build it because it's the wrong thing for america. just to let it go on to open himself up to accusations of politics past the midterms, i don't think that's the kind of leadership that's required on a big project like this.

>> and to the extent this is political, which party do you think suffers most if this gets made?

>> if the pipeline goes ahead?

>> if it goes ahead --

>> is this an all-out loss for democrats.

>> i haven't thought about about that because i don't think it's going ahead. if it's done in the right way, it can help the whole country. if it's a bad idea, the president should let people know that and remove the uncertainty. one of the things presidents should do is remove uncertainty from big complicated national and international debates. he is not doing that. just the opposite.

>> it seems like five years into this, five years, five years, this is a subject in which he has had a fireside chat with the country and said i want to do it or not, and here are the obstacles.

>> that's what i think. it's a challenge. he is hidden behind the state department and he has hidden behind in this case a legal ruling. there will be legal challenges. i just think it's a big, complicated problem. that's why he gets the big bucks .

>> i do think this is a particularly substantive issue. a lot of arguments on both sides. a lot of them valid. thank you, gentlemen. mark and robert , appreciate your weighing