President Donald Trump misstated key details about an oil pipeline he approved to present the project as part of a strategy to undercut Russia.
“Dakota Access takes it to the Pacific,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One Wednesday night, according to excerpts released by the White House of what was originally an off-the-record conversation. "Who do they compete with? Russia."
It was not immediately clear what Trump meant, but the Dakota Access pipeline does not go anywhere near the Pacific coast. It starts in the Bakken oil field in North Dakota and runs east to Patoka, Ill., where it links up with an existing pipeline network. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump also touted the Keystone XL pipeline, saying he “revived it on Day One.” That’s not quite right either. Trump signed memos expediting DAPL and KXL four days after being sworn in, and it was two more months before the State Department formally approved Keystone’s permit. TransCanada is awaiting approval from state regulators in Nebraska before it can begin construction on the project.
"But that goes to the Gulf, right? Competes with Russia," Trump said of the KXL pipeline.
Trump also said Keystone XL and DAPL would create a combined 48,000 jobs without addressing the temporary nature of most of that work. DAPL operator Energy Transfer Partners said up to 12,000 jobs would be supported while the pipeline was under construction, but that work has already been completed. Just 40 permanent jobs are expected to remain, according to estimates from the Brookings Institution.
The State Department estimated Keystone XL would support around 42,000 direct and indirect jobs during its assumed two years of construction and a total of 50 permanent jobs after that.
The president also stressed his support for increased oil and gas drilling, although there too he overstated the case.
"We’ve got underneath us more oil than anybody, and nobody knew it until five years ago," Trump said, inflating the relative size of U.S. reserves and reducing the amount of time companies have been able to access it. "And I want to use it. And I don’t want that taken away by the Paris Accord."
In 2016, the EIA ranked the U.S. 11th in proven crude oil reserves, behind Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Canada and others. The hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling technology that helped U.S. oil companies unlock massive new stores of oil and gas from shale formations has been widely used for at least a decade, helping spark a huge uptick in oil production since 2009.
Trump also called himself “a tremendous fracker” and alleged energy prices would have doubled if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had won the election, alleging she would have banned fracking.
Clinton never supported a fracking ban during the campaign, despite heavy pressure from liberal activists, though she did call for increased regulation of the technology. As secretary of State, she established the Global Shale Gas Initiative promoting natural gas development.
Trump also said he was seriously considering putting solar panels on the border wall he would like to build. "There is a chance that we can do a solar wall. We have major companies looking at that," he said.