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Energy and Resources Trump vows to end reliance on foreign oil with ‘America First’ energy policy

Though the new U.S. administration’s energy-policy paper is silent on pipelines, President Donald Trump supports TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline proposal, which was rejected by Barack Obama in 2015, and the project is expected to be revisited.

ANDREW CULLEN/REUTERS

Shortly after being sworn into office on Friday, President Donald Trump released an "America First" energy policy that vows to drive the expansion of oil, natural gas and coal production, end U.S. crude imports from OPEC and reverse the Obama administration's climate-change regulations.

The statement was posted on the White House website along with five other issue papers that reiterated key themes from Mr. Trump's campaign and inaugural speech in which he promised to use protectionist measures to further U.S. interests and jobs.

"The Trump administration is committed to energy policies that lower costs for hard-working Americans and maximize the use of American resources, freeing us from dependence on foreign oil," the energy-policy paper said. "For too long, we've been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry."

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Read more: What does the Trump era mean for Canada? A guide to what's coming

Read more: Trump's pledge to put America first leaves Canada behind on jobs and trade

Read more: Key moments from Trump's inaugural address, annotated

It takes aim at former president Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which promised to slash greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector, and at the Waters of the United States rule that expands federal protection for streams and wetlands. Both measures are opposed by some states and industry. The Trump administration's policy paper made no mention of energy efficiency or renewable power. While the Obama administration gave important support for renewable power, advocates argue that the industry will continue to flourish because many states have their own programs and that Republicans in Congress are committed to tax breaks that expand wind and solar energy in their regions.

Mr. Trump and his cabinet nominees have been vague so far in how they intend to spur U.S. oil and gas production, beyond a general promise to reduce taxes and regulations and to allow drilling on more federal lands. American producers are already boosting their investment plans in response to higher crude prices, and analysts suggest it will be the market more than any federal policies that determines the pace of production growth.

The Trump administration pledges to end dependence on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries – a promise made by several presidents since Richard Nixon first uttered it in the 1970s.

The United States imported 9.7 million barrels a day of crude in October, the most recent month for which statistics are available, with 3.3 million barrels of that coming from OPEC suppliers.

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Canada accounted for 3.6 million barrels a day.

The energy paper is silent on pipelines, but Mr. Trump and Republican leaders in Congress support TransCanada Corp.'s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Observers expect an indication in the coming days or weeks on how the Republicans will reverse Mr. Obama's 2015 rejection of the pipeline project.

The Liberal government in Ottawa supports the Keystone XL project, and TransCanada says it remains committed to the line that would carry oil sands crude to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

"The next step is the President's," federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said in an interview at the Canadian embassy in Washington.

It will then be up to TransCanada to decide whether to reapply, he said.

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"All of the approvals are already in place north of the border, so there would be no regulatory decisions required, should the President approve it."

TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha said the company has most of the state approvals it needs.

One avenue the Trump administration could take would be to rescind the 50-year-old executive order that requires proposed cross-border pipelines to receive a presidential permit.

However, the Canadian industry needs to be wary of Mr. Trump's "America First" ideology and its impact on the markets for their oil and natural gas, Tim McMillan, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said in an interview from Washington.

He said it is more important than ever to expand the industry's access to foreign markets beyond its traditional reliance on the United States, which is both the biggest customer and the biggest competitor to the Canadian industry.

Mr. Carr expressed some confidence that Canada can work with the avowedly protectionist administration.

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"We are in this together. We share the continent, we share these resources," he said.

"It's in the interest of both countries to develop them responsibly and together, because there are jobs at stake. Many jobs."

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