- REUTERS/Trish Badger
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received an unusually warm reception of his keynote address at an energy industry conference in Texas on Thursday evening.
“No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there,” Trudeau said in his address to oil and gas industry executives at Houston’s CERAWeek conference, discussing Alberta’s vast oil sands reserves.
Trudeau’s speech was met with a standing ovation from the more than 1,200 attendees – an unordinary reaction to a keynote speaker, conference-goers told the CBC. The prime minister was also given an award for his efforts to balance environmental protection and energy production.
“The resource will be developed. Our job is to ensure that this is done responsibly, safely, and sustainably,” Trudeau said. “Nothing is more essential to the US economy than access to a secure, reliable source of energy. Canada is that source.”
Trudeau has been under fire from Canada’s oil industry after he stumbled while discussing the topic in January. He told an audience in Ontario that the oil sands should be phased out, later telling The Globe and Mail that he “misspoke.”
Trudeau’s speech also touted his support for the Keystone XL pipeline, one of the few areas where he and US President Donald Trump share common ground.
He further discussed juggling the priorities of combatting climate change and bolstering Canada’s oil and gas industry.
Under Trudeau, Canada’s Liberal government has approved new pipelines while working with provinces to implement a carbon-pricing scheme.
The prime minister has long maintained that developing fossil-fuel resources can go “hand in hand” with fighting climate change.
“It’s a tremendous business opportunity to lead on climate change,” Trudeau told The Guardian in December. He said that one of the fundamental responsibilities of his office was to get “resources to market” in “sustainable ways” while also working to strengthen Canada’s middle class.
“You cannot make a choice anymore on what’s good for the environment and what’s good for the economy,” Trudeau told The Guardian.
Trudeau on Thursday also took a parting shot at the Trump administration’s proposed border adjustment tax, which wouldn’t allow business to deduct the cost of imported goods.
“Anything that creates impediments at the border, extra tariffs, or new taxes is something we are concerned with,” Trudeau said. “You can applaud against the border adjustment tax.”