NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": A different perspective now from a guy in the middle of this pipeline rail, if you will, this line, Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana, and, by the way, a Democrat at that.
Governor, good to have you.
You're not for this delay or at least what some are saying or fearing could be an outright cancellation.
GOV. BRIAN SCHWEITZER, D-MONT.: Well, as usual, there's a hell of a lot more smoke than fire in Washington, D.C.
I'm the biggest advocate in America for this pipeline. In fact, Montana permitted this pipeline. It's already been permitted in South Dakota and Kansas, and this not about Washington, D.C. There is no route in Nebraska. Neil, you probably didn't have it exactly right.
You can't permit a pipeline if it's a pipeline to nowhere. Nebraska called a special session to change their laws so that they won't allow the pipeline to be permitted for at least six to nine months, and we should get going on building the pipeline, but...
(CROSSTALK)CAVUTO: I just want to be clear, because, believe me, I defer to you on the expertise here.
But when Nebraska talked about trying to find a way around this by moving this, you're saying that was all smoke and mirrors?
SCHWEITZER: Well, Nebraska is 200 miles wide. So would you expect TransCanada to begin in Hardisty, Alberta, and come 200 some miles across Montana and then South Dakota and then look 100 miles to the east and 100 miles to the west and have no idea where they're going to build the pipeline?
CAVUTO: So that wouldn't have done it anyway? That was a wasted argument. OK.
SCHWEITZER: Neil, more important than that, if this didn't cross the international border, we don't need Washington, D.C. to give us states -- the states are the ones who give the permits.
We've given the permits in all the other states, except for Nebraska. But since it crosses an international border, the State Department has to sign off on it. But the State Department can't sign off on a pipeline if you don't even know what the route is.
So, again, Washington, D.C., yammering on, but the fact of the matter is, there's not going to be a permit even available to examine for another six or nine months, until Nebraska decides a route.
CAVUTO: Well, what happens, Governor? The rap is that people behind this knew what was going on, they knew that there were these type of issues to finalize, and that the better part of valor was to just say table it and that decision was made in Washington, D.C.
SCHWEITZER: Well, table what? In other words, I know because I sign off...
(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: Completing the pipeline, actually getting it going.
SCHWEITZER: I sign off on pipeline permits. And we've signed off on it in Montana as they have in South Dakota. But the State Department is asked to sign off on a pipeline to nowhere. This pipeline starts in
CAVUTO: So when the president makes a statement like he did today that this is being rushed and the House Republicans are rushing this on him, what was he talking about?
SCHWEITZER: He's talking about you cannot sign this until Nebraska has a route. Nebraska hasn't even permitted this pipeline. And they won't for six or nine months.
CAVUTO: So the perception that the environmentalists didn't like it, they have real serious problems with this, and many in the administration said these environmental concerns were legitimate and real, you don't think they are?
SCHWEITZER: Yes, they are. Nebraska, they called a special session of the legislature and changed their laws because the people of Nebraska said we don't want the pipeline. They've got 16,000 miles of pipeline in Nebraska, but they didn't want this one.
CAVUTO: But environmentalists who may argue that same point in Washington either didn't or we made much ado about that for no reason?
SCHWEITZER: More smoke. More smoke, not fire, in Washington, D.C.
CAVUTO: I want to be clear, governor. You for this pipeline getting done? You are saying the president is not for not getting it done; he is beholden to Nebraska and that's the reason why he's not getting it done? It makes no sense.
SCHWEITZER: The State Department cannot sign off on a permit until there is a route in the permit application. There isn't one.
CAVUTO: So when someone submits a route or an idea to get around that and they need to table and look at that a little longer, you're saying that is Nebraska's fault, not a Washington beholden to environmentalists' fault?
SCHWEITZER: As soon as Nebraska permits a route like we have in Montana, South Dakota and Kansas then there is a permit application that can be taken to the State Department.
This is a lot of smoke in Washington, D.C. We need the pipeline. I'll guarantee you, I bet you $100 right now, not $10,000, I will bet you $100 we build the pipeline because America needs it. It's conflict-free oil.
CAVUTO: Now it is in Washington's hands, right? And unless that happens it will be on Washington's desk that it didn't happen, right?
SCHWEITZER: As soon as TransCanada can deliver a completed permit application that includes a full route, then -- the Washington, D.C., can act it on. But they've got a permit that they cannot act on right now.
CAVUTO: I know you like the president. I know you're a Democrat. So you are totally absolving the president from any responsibility for screwing this up?
SCHWEITZER: Well, I would hold the president responsible for a lot of things, but, in this particular case, those of us would know Montana, South Dakota, TransCanada, we all know that the hang-up is Nebraska.
(CROSSTALK)CAVUTO: All right, but I had TransCanada on. So, when they're saying that, out of nowhere, the president stopped this, are they lying?
SCHWEITZER: Well, it's not out of nowhere.
The State Department makes the decision based on a completed application. How can you call this a completed application when it's a pipeline to nowhere?
CAVUTO: So, if you had a completed application, let's say you did.
CAVUTO: The president would have no reason to stop this. There would be -- even though environmentalists were then and are now still upset about this thing, he would have gone ahead and done it, regardless of their wrath?
SCHWEITZER: I can't tell you what the president would or would not have done.
I can't speak for the president. I can tell you that we have permitted it in Montana, and I am a huge supporter.
CAVUTO: I understand that, Governor, but you know the popular media - - and if you're saying it's wrong, it's wrong -- are saying that this was all a go, this plan, and Nebraska notwithstanding, was all a go, and at the last second, it was the White House that pulled the rug out from it.
You are saying that is not true?
SCHWEITZER: That's again the cart before the horse, because you do not have a completed application until you have a complete pipeline. This pipelines runs to the Nebraska border, and then it just dumps the oil on the prairie? That's not the way you do a pipeline application. I know.
CAVUTO: So you're hanging this on Nebraska and not Washington?
SCHWEITZER: It's Nebraska.
CAVUTO: All right, because the folks in Nebraska claim otherwise. I don't know why, but they do.
SCHWEITZER: Well, why did they call a special session and shut down the pipeline? Ask the people of Nebraska. They'll tell its six more months minimum because they able to offer a route and a permit.
CAVUTO: All right, we will watch closely.
But, Governor, it's always a pleasure. Thank you very much.
SCHWEITZER: Good visiting with you.