Categories: Provincial News

Alberta politicians welcome Keystone XL approval

Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Glenn van Dijken is pleased with the American approval of the international pipeline and hopes the project will help energize Alberta's economy.

Premier Rachel Notley and opposition MLA Glenn van Dijken are both celebrating the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

In his second working day in office, U.S. President Donald Trump signed executive orders on Tuesday morning to approve Keystone XL pipeline.

“I’m really excited about this,” van Dijken, the MLA for Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock said. “We are turning a corner and it’s allowing us to recognize the value of pipelines and what it can bring to the Alberta economy.”

The approval of the project is welcome news from the government and official opposition party in the hopes that it will help support the slumping economy.

"We’re at the point now where the Alberta economy needs to be enjoying the benefits of a higher return for our oil and gas … And so that is definitely something that will happen as a result of the Keystone,” Notley said.

The 1,900-kilometre pipeline will pump 830,000 barrels a day from Hardisty, to refineries in Texas and Louisiana. The project will create 4,500 construction jobs.

The announcement makes van Dijken more optimistic about Alberta’s economy going forward and he said it is a good opportunity to expand infrastructure and gain access to global markets.

“This will start to bring some confidence back to industry and so it has immediate positive ramification moving forward,” van Dijken. “We have refineries across North America and getting it to the Gulf Coast is huge for continuing to move the product around the world. It will have access to tidewater.”

Van Dijken said he is concerned with the ‘social license’ approach to getting pipelines approved but is pleased this project was approved on its merits.

“We are holding these companies hostage [with social license]even though they are doing a project that is going to return huge value to the economy of the entire country,” van Dijken said.

Along with approving the pipeline, President Trump said he would “renegotiate the terms” of the project. Notley and van Dijken are not worried about what that means. The Wildrose MLA said renegotiating the terms is just part of a business and Trump has a responsibility to get the best deal for his country.

Trump has said he wants American pipelines to be constructed with U.S. pipe.

The approval by the government doesn’t mean the project will not face roadblocks. Van Dijken expects some protests but doesn’t think they will halt the project.

The pipeline was first proposed in 2008 by TransCanada Corp. and ConocoPhillips but was delayed after protests from environmental groups. The project has had approval in Canada but as an international pipeline it needed approval from the American government. In November 2015 former president Barack Obama rejected the pipeline with a veto and extended the stalemate.

During Trump’s campaign he was a vocal advocate for Keystone XL and said he would approve the pipeline if elected.

Along with approving Keystone XL, Trump gave approval to the controversial Dakota Access pipeline.

Jennifer Henderson: Jennifer Henderson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2016. She writes about municipal, provincial and federal politics; court and crime; general news and features.