No leaks, no spills, no impact on climate change.
The Keystone XL pipeline would have “no impact” on the environment if it were approved and built, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said on Tuesday. For that reason, the billionaire said he would approve the controversial project “immediately” if elected president.
If I am elected President I will immediately approve the Keystone XL pipeline. No impact on environment & lots of jobs for U.S.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2015
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is a 1,179-mile extension to the Keystone Pipeline System, and it would bring tar sands crude oil from Canada down to refineries on the Gulf coast. The project has been stalled for years, as President Obama has been reluctant to approve it partially due to environmental concerns.
Though there’s been fierce debate over how large the proposed pipeline’s environmental impact would be, it’s rare to hear someone say Keystone XL would have no environmental impact at all. Even the U.S. State Department said that, while there would not be a major impact on climate change, the pipeline would likely experience spills in the course of its lifetime.
The risk of an oil spill from Keystone XL is particularly concerning to environmentalists because of the type of oil involved. Tar sands oil is more difficult to clean up than conventional crude because, when it spills into water, it does not float. Instead, it gradually sinks, making normal cleanup techniques and equipment of little use. This is partially what made the 2010 Enbridge oil spill so difficult to clean up.
Environmentalists also decry tar sands oil extraction because of its carbon intensity. The extraction process causes more greenhouse gas emissions than other types of oil. This is likely not an issue for Donald Trump, however, as he does not think greenhouses gases cause climate change.
Trump is also personally invested in the company seeking to build Keystone XL. According to his mandatory financial disclosures, he holds at least $250,000 in TransCanada Pipelines. His stock holdings also include numerous other fossil fuel companies that could benefit from the pipeline’s approval and subsequent construction.