Though he’s faced criticism for many decisions since officially taking office Jan. 20, US President Donald Trump has provided Albertans with some cause for optimism.
Trump signed executive orders on Jan. 24to streamline permits on the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. Keystone XL, which would begin in Hardisty, Alta. and extend to Steele City, Nebraska, was first approved in Canada in 2010, but after nearly six years of review it was rejected by former President Barack Obama in 2015.
The announcement came as good news for many Albertans still facing a struggling economy.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said in a press conference that the provincial government welcomes news the US is moving forward with the Keystone XL pipeline.
“The US is an extremely valuable customer of ours and any step that allows us to better support the needs of one of our largest customers is good news,” said Notley. “This project is going to create good jobs here in Alberta, and that’s my focus – create good jobs, support our workers, and diversify our economy.”
She said work on the pipeline will get Albertans back in the field and bring business to rural hotels, restaurants and hardware stores across the province.
“We will support our energy companies however we can to make sure this pipeline moves forward, because at the end of the day it is about making sure that regular working families of our province all have access to good jobs,” said Notley.
Highwood MLA Wayne Anderson said reviving the Keystone XL project is good news for Albertans, as people can look forward to getting back to work.
“It’s excellent news, and I’m glad to hear it,” said Anderson. “It’s obviously going to stimulate the economy, and it’s something we’ve been waiting for, for an awfully long time.”
He said adding jobs to the Alberta market and shipping product to the US should help the Alberta economy rebound.
Though Trump promised he would revisit and renegotiate the terms of the deal, Anderson said he’s not concerned about it going through. After eight years of being dormant, Anderson is not surprised to see the US taking a close look at the terms and conditions.
“That’s typical in business, you look at the contract and see if it makes sense, if the terms make sense,” said Anderson. “I’m pretty positive it’s going to, for both sides of the border. And this will move forward, and it will mean jobs, it will mean employment, and it will give us opportunity to build a new pipeline in Alberta.”
Foothills MP John Barlow said reigniting the Keystone XL project is a positive step for Canada, and particularly for Alberta and Saskatchewan.
He said he’s encouraged, but wary, to see the United States embracing the energy sector.
“There’s been a tide change in the States,” said Barlow. “It’s good and bad in that the United States is now not only our biggest customer, but also our biggest competitor, and that’s something we need to keep in mind as we move forward with our own policies.”
He was disappointed to hear Trump’s decision to use all American-built materials to construct the southern portion of the pipeline. As he signed the executive orders, Trump promised the US would use its own steel and labour to complete the project.
Barlow said a lot of the pipeline for Keystone XL was already built by EVRAZ in Saskatchewan, and this leaves Canadian industry hanging.
“We have EVRAZ, we have the steel mills in southern Ontario, we have a lot of coal mines in Canada that have been actively supporting the industry, so to have that ‘Made in the USA’ portion of the Keystone pipeline takes a lot of shine off the project,” said Barlow.
He said the pipeline might provide a market for oil and an avenue to US refineries, but the Canadian economy was also relying on providing a lot of the steel to build the pipeline.
The production of materials like pipes is often an overlooked part of the industry, he said. It can provide a serious boost and adds to the diversification of the economy, so being stripped of that portion of the project is a difficult pill to swallow, he said.
“We have some of the best technology, best materials, and certainly some of the best labour in terms of skilled labour to do those types of projects here in Canada, so we want to make sure they also have opportunities to benefit from a project like Keystone XL,” said Barlow.