An activist holds up a sign outside the State Department during a protest of the Keystone XL pipeline on March 7, 2014 in Washington.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

After spill, Trump’s Keystone XL assurances appear ridiculous

Two years ago, during the Republican presidential primaries, Donald Trump denounced President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. As the Republican put it at the time, there was no “no downside” to the project.

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Two years later, Trump is now president and fond of pointing to his approval of the Keystone pipeline as one of his favorite accomplishments. That’s problematic on a variety of levels, starting with the emergence of a “downside” Trump said wouldn’t exist.

Part of the controversial Keystone Pipeline was shut down Thursday after more than 200,000 gallons of oil leaked in South Dakota, the state and the company that runs the pipeline said Thursday.

Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist for the Ground Water Quality Program of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, told NBC News that TransCanada, the Calgary-based company that operates the Canada-to-Texas line, reported the leak Thursday morning in a sparsely populated area of Marshall County, near Amherst in the northeastern part of the state.

As Rachel noted on last night’s show, the environmental impact matters, as does the timing. In just a few days, officials in Nebraska are scheduled to decide whether to permit the Keystone XL project to run through their state. Chances are, they’ll hear quite a bit about the South Dakota spill between now and their decision.

As for the president, Trump was in North Dakota in September, bragging about his support for the Keystone project. “Tremendous thing,” he said in reference to the pipeline. “I think environmentally better. I really believe that – environmentally better.”

Better than what? He didn’t say.

Donald Trump, Keystone and Oil

After spill, Trump's Keystone XL assurances appear ridiculous