Alberta premier welcomes Keystone XL pipeline permit

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Alberta premier welcomes Keystone XL pipeline permit

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline is good news for the province, bringing the multi-billion dollar project that much closer to reality.

The pipeline could potentially bring 5,000 jobs and more than $1 billion in direct investment to the province, she said, noting there are still barriers ahead before shovels are in the ground.

"I don't have a crystal ball, but I do think reasonable people would suggest we are within eight to 12 months of getting started on that, as we are with Kinder Morgan.

"So we are hopeful that those timelines are real and if they are not, we will do whatever we can to advocate for them moving faster," Notely said, speaking at an unrelated event at Calgary's McDougall Centre.

Notley added that while it's not her place to talk about the concerns of First Nations and others in the U.S. who oppose the project, Calgary-based TransCanada is "working very hard to accommodate the concerns that have been raised."

'It's not just a pipeline'

The multibillion-dollar pipeline — first pitched in 2008 — would bring more than 800,000 barrels per day of heavy crude from Hardisty, Alta. to Steele City, Neb., linking to an existing pipeline network feeding U.S. refineries and ports along the Gulf of Mexico along the entire almost 1,900-kilometre route.

In Hardisty, deputy mayor Dean Lane said he was "ecstatic" about the Keystone announcement Friday, calling the news "great for our town and for our ratepayers."

Lane said approximately one-half of the employment and economic activity in the town is dependent on the oil field and related manufacturing. That activity has taken a one-two punch since the oil price downturn of 2014 and the Obama administration's rejection of the Keystone expansion a year later.

"We've got a second phase of our industrial subdivision there that's been kind of in a hole for the past couple years," said Lane.

"A lot of people fail to realize it's not just a pipeline … It's all the residuals that goes along with it — your restaurants, your grocery stores, all the parts that are required to assemble the pipeline, the electrical side of it, the valves, the check valves, the bolts, the nuts, the people that it employs. And a lot of this stuff comes from all over the world."

Greenpeace Alberta spokesman Mike Hudema says the Keystone XL project is bad for the environment, but the pipeline is not a done deal.

"This pipeline still doesn't have a permit through Nebraska. There are already lawsuits that are being filed against the approval of this pipeline, opposition from both First Nations and communities on both sides of the border have just gotten bigger. This pipeline has a huge uphill battle and a very finicky and fragile financial situation as well."

Energy East still on agenda

Notley said the Alberta government is also committed to getting a pipeline to Canadian tidewater.

"Because we also believe it's important to for us to diversify our markets moving forward in the responsible development of oil and gas."

Lane agrees.

"We'd like to see another pipeline going east, another pipeline going west to get us out from being so landlocked and stuck in the middle. Whatever helps Alberta, helps all of Canada as far as I'm concerned."

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