Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received an unusually warm reception to 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 during his address to oil and gas industry executives at Houston’s CERAWeek conference, discussing Alberta’s vast oil sands reserve.
Trudeau’s comments were met with a standing ovation from the over 1,200 attendees — an out-of-the-ordinary 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 with energy production.
“The resource will be developed. Our job is to ensure this is done responsibly, safely and sustainably,” Trudeau added. “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 clarifying to 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 President Donald Trump share common ground.
He further discussed juggling the priorities of combatting climate change while bolstering Canada’s oil-and-gas industry.
Under Trudeau’s tenure, the Liberal government has approved new pipelines while also 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 noted that one of the fundamental responsibilities of his office is 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 also took a parting shot at the Trump Administration’s proposed border adjustment tax, which would disallow business from deducting imported goods from their revenue.
“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.”
Watch Trudeau’s full speech here:
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