msnbc | February 17, 2013
>>> thousands gathering on the national mall with a climate change rally. organizers are expecting 20,000 people today . organizers say it is an effort to raise awareness about climate change and protest the keystone xl pipeline. joining me now is coral davenport. welcome back. good to see you.
>> you tweeted this was the largest climate change rally ever in the u.s. what type of impact would that have?
>> they are expecting 20,000 or in the tens of thousands. organizers are expecting in the tens of thousands to attend this rally. what this rally is about is president obama has made clear in his inauguration speech and state of the union speech that he wants to make climate change a priority in his second term. he did that in his first term. it got pushed to the back burner. the climate bill change failed. they don't want this to be an issue that slips behind issues like immigration or issues like gun control. there are a couple of things the president can act on climate change without congress this year. one would be using the environmental protection agency on coal- fire power plants. the president will probably do that. the other thing is whether or not he will approve or deny the keystone pipeline . on that, the president has not shown his hand. he hasn't indicated what he will do. this is his environmental base saying we will not forget this. don't let go of this. move forward. we're pushing you on this.
>> with regard to the keystone pipeline , it is something that has been delayed. there have been previous demonstrations around the 10,000 mark was the last one. it did result in something concrete. at least a delay. are you hopeful at what is happening today can spur more concrete action?
>> certainly the environmentalists who are protesting today are hopeful of that. what they did with their protests during the campaign season really worked. in 2011 , the state department and obama administration was very much on track to approve the keystone pipeline . it was close to signed, sealed and delivered until the environmental groups rallied around the white house and sent the message to the president. that message was if you approve this pipeline, you lose us. we might not vote for mitt romney , but we will not back you with the passion we did in 2008 . we will not knock on doors and we will not be this passionate base for you. the white house paid attention. they delayed the pipeline. now they are saying that tactic worked. we will try it again. the difference, this time, the president is not running for re-election. and so that will be really interesting to see whether it has an impact when votes are in play.
>> votes and the economy. the question has to be asked how much will the white house invest in the cause in the second term? do they have to weigh the climate change against the economy in recovery? could that hurt jobs out there?
>> this is absolutely an economic economy. the president and congress -- the president, it seems clear. he wants to act on climate change . there will be a lot of cost benefit analysis that has to be made over the economy. one thing we may see is the president moving forward on epa regulations on coal plants signaling that as this is flexing executive authority and taking action on climate change , but we may see a tradeoff. moving on that and approving the keystone pipeline as well. we will see the president trying really hard to weigh in and taking action on climate change , but trying not to harm the economy in the short-term.
>> coral davenport in d.c. thanks.