McConnell asks Trump to approve Keystone pipeline

McConnell asks Trump to approve Keystone pipeline
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.) asked President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE to prioritize approving the Keystone XL pipeline at their Thursday meeting.

McConnell told reporters Friday that Keystone was one of the top priorities that he asked Trump to take on quickly when he comes into the White House Jan. 20, along with repealing regulations that the Kentucky Republican says constitute a “war on coal.”

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“One thing I do hope he’ll do, that I recommended yesterday that won’t surprise any of you, and that is approve the Keystone pipeline,” McConnell said at a news conference in Louisville, Ky.

“Talk about anxiety about jobs,” McConnell said of President Obama’s years-long refusal to weigh in on the oil pipeline project, and eventual decision a year ago to reject it.

“The president sat on the Keystone pipeline throughout his entire eight years, even though his own State Department said it had no measurable impact on climate.”

McConnell estimated that Keystone would create up to 20,000 construction jobs “immediately.” TransCanada Corp., the company hoping to build the Canada-to-Texas line, previously estimated that it would create 13,000 construction jobs, nearly all of them temporary.

Keystone was one of numerous priorities that McConnell said Trump could accomplish without having to consult Congress. The project needs a presidential permit to cross the border with Canada.

“If there were an application for approval of the Keystone pipeline, it could be approved like that,” he said, snapping his fingers.

Trump has pledged to immediately approve Keystone XL if TransCanada Corp. submits a new application.

McConnell said he also urged Trump to undo many of Obama’s regulations.

“One of the ways to get this economy growing again I think it is to deal with regulatory changes,” he said.

He was optimistic that Trump would end policies that are part of the “war on coal.”

“I certainly would like to see the war on coal come to an end,” McConnell said. “As I’ve said repeatedly over the last few years, the war on coal was not a result of anything Congress passed. There was no new legislation, this all either executive orders or regulations that the president was involved in, unilaterally, on his own.”

He added that Republicans would be “presenting to the new president a variety of options that could end this assault, whether that immediately brings business back is hard to tell, since this is a private sector activity.”

Trump has also promised to roll back nearly all of Obama’s environmental regulations, and specifically to revitalize the coal industry, which has suffered in recent years due mainly to competition from cheap natural gas, along with regulations.