CALGARY — The U.S. environmental movement’s biggest win yet, the defeat of the Keystone XL pipeline, could be history if Donald Trump takes the White House in November.
The Republican presidential candidate confirmed Thursday he would approve TransCanada Corp.’s proposed oil pipeline to link Alberta’s oilsands to refineries in the U.S. Gulf, but on different terms.
“I would absolutely approve it, 100 percent, but I would want a better deal,” Trump told reporters at a press conference in Bismarck, N.D., where he was scheduled to give a speech to an oil conference on the energy policies he would pursue.
“I want it built, but I want a piece of the profits,” Trump said. “That’s how we’re going to make our country rich again.”
Donald Trump signed off deal designed to deprive U.S. of tens of millions of dollars in taxObama seeks new $10-per-barrel oil tax in budget proposal to fund clean transport
Whether such a goal is feasible or even needed, his pro-oil energy agenda would mean rougher waters for the anti-pipeline lobby that thrived under President Barack Obama.
Obama rejected KXL last November, saying: “America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change, and frankly approving this project would have undercut that global leadership.”
TransCanada stopped short of addressing Trump’s comments on profit-sharing, but noted KXL already provides lots of benefits to the U.S.
“Key American companies are customers on KXL,” said spokesman James Millar. “The pipeline will benefit American workers longer term as the companies they work for have signed contracts to ship and refine oil through Keystone XL. And this is not counting the 40,000 jobs construction of KXL would support, the U.S. suppliers who would benefit from an $8 billion project, or the tens of millions of dollars in property taxes TransCanada would pay to states along the pipeline’s route if it is built.
“We believe Americans would rather use U.S. and Canadian oil through Keystone XL than continue the current practice of importing millions of barrels of oil every day from Venezuela and the Middle East.”
Trump said that if elected he would also seek to reduce regulation on the energy industry to make drillers and coal companies more competitive.
“I think the federal government should get out of the way. We have so much potential energy that people wouldn’t even believe it,” he said.
The comments deepen the contrast between Trump and his Democratic rivals Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, both of whom advocate a sharp turn toward renewable energy technology as a way to combat climate change.
“Bernie is going to ban fracking. Hillary is going to ban fracking,” Trump said, flanked by oil baron Harold Hamm, the chief executive of shale oil producer Continental Resources.
“You do that and we’re going to be back into the Middle East and we’re going to be begging for oil again. That’s not going to happen, not with me,” he said.
In choosing North Dakota as the stage for his remarks, Trump was making an appeal to voters in a largely Republican state that has seen its fortunes plummet with the price of oil in the last two years.
Trump said he supports all forms of energy and wants the U.S. to be energy independent.
KXL opponent Tom Steyer said “a Trump presidency would be a disaster for America.”
“Trump’s energy policies would accelerate climate change, protect corporate polluters who profit from poisoning our air and water, and block the transition to clean energy that is necessary to strengthen our economy and protect our climate and health,” said Steyer, founder of NextGen Climate Action.
Financial Post with files from news services