WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump says he would reject the Keystone XL pipeline if TransCanada Corp. didn’t give the U.S. a “big, big chunk of the profits, or even ownership rights.”
All of Trump’s Republican rivals say they would immediately approve the pipeline from the Alberta oil sands, which President Barack Obama rejected in November. Trump, who bills himself as a master negotiator, now says he would require TransCanada to fork over billions.
“I want 25 per cent of the deal for the United States. They’re going to make a fortune,” he declared in Muscatine, Iowa on Sunday. On Saturday, he said he would ask for “25 per cent of the profits forever.”
Trump, campaigning as an economic nationalist, said he wants the pipeline approved. But he said TransCanada should not be allowed to send Canadian oil through American land—“through farmland and through cities and wherever the hell they’re going” — without paying a hefty price.
“When they do this pipeline, it’s going to be a very profitable thing and it’s really Canada oil coming down — so it’s not — I like Canada, I want these people to be happy, but I want the developers of the pipeline to give the United States a big, big chunk of the profits or even ownership rights, like I do in business. That’s what I do,” he said.
“I want a big piece of the deal. Otherwise I’m not going to approve it. They will give us a lot.”
Trump also declared that he is “not in love with the idea of taking Canadian oil.” He added, “I love Canada, by the way.”
Trump once favoured rapid Keystone approval. He appears to be launching an effort to use the project as fuel for his attempt to challenge the patriotism and the eligibility of top competitor Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who was born in Calgary and held dual citizenship until 2014.
“Ted Cruz will approve the Keystone pipeline because it benefits Canada!” he said.
Trump did not explain how a profit-sharing deal might work. A TransCanada spokesman could not be reached on Sunday.
Trump’s Keystone remarks capped another weekend of bizarre and outlandish statements. On Saturday, he declared, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Ave. and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”
On Sunday, he asked if a protester in a red turban was wearing “one of those hats.” It wasn’t clear if he thought the man might have been wearing a red Trump baseball cap.