Chuck Todd: Environmental Left 'Dragged' Clinton and Obama to Anti-Keystone Positions

November 6, 2015

MSNBC's Chuck Todd said Friday that both President Obama and Hillary Clinton took policy stances against the Keystone XL Pipeline because of pressure from environmentalists on the left.

Speaking with Frances Rivera moments before the president publicly rejected the construction of the oil pipeline, Todd described how Obama and Clinton were initially "neutral" on TransCanada's proposal.

At the time, the president "thought the arguments among environmentalists were too...over the top, and he thought the arguments from the right and the business community...was over the top, and he was, during his reelection, sort of trying to straddle this straw man middle."

Todd said that Clinton felt the same way and played an active role early on as Secretary of State when the public debate began because the pipeline involved a foreign state, Canada, and cross-border issues.

Their positions shifted dramatically when "the environmental movement on the left" made Keystone a be all, end all, giving an ultimatum of sorts to politicians: "If you're truly an environmentalist, you're against this thing [constructing the pipeline]. If you're not, then you can't call yourself a real advocate on the climate change issue. You can't call yourself a real environmentalist."

Todd believes these environmentalist forces on the left "dragged" Obama and Clinton away from their shared initial view to their current position staunchly against the pipeline.

In the president's statement opposing the Keystone project, he asserted that the pipeline has played an "over-inflated role in our political discourse" and will do little to create jobs and lower gas prices, in addition to harming the environment.

Republicans and the Canadian government, on the other hand, support constructing the pipeline, arguing that it will create thousands of jobs, be a plus for U.S. energy policy, and have a minimal impact on the environment.

Some Republican presidential candidates immediately criticized the president's decision, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) who tweeted, "When I'm president, Keystone will be approved, and President Obama's backwards energy policies will come to an end."