Watch above: The Republican Party now holds the balance of power in Washington after Tuesday’s mid-term election. The effects of the takeover may be felt in Saskatchewan.
SASKATOON – Premier Brad Wall’s provincial government may be one step closer to seeing the Keystone XL pipeline project passed after Republicans took over both chambers of the U.S. Congress in the 2014 mid-term elections.
The majority of Republicans in Congress have expressed their support for the project, while environmental Democrats have denounced it.
“Clearly the Republican win down in the [U.S.] I think is good news in terms of the business relationship that our province has with the United States,” said Saskatchewan Economy Minister Bill Boyd.
“The economy of Saskatchewan is very affected by what happens in American politics,” said David McGrane, a political scientist at the University of Saskatchewan.
Premier Wall’s government has consistently lobbied for the construction of the pipeline, even visiting Washington in the process. The project would allow oil to travel from Alberta to Nebraska and would run through Saskatchewan.
“It certainly will be very, very positive in terms of jobs for people here in Saskatchewan and also into the United States as well,” said Boyd.
“Some 20-thousand jobs are expected as a result,” he added.
The Saskatchewan government also estimates that provincial oil producers are losing $2.5-million in revenue each year the pipeline isn’t built or functioning.
“They’ve been very aggressive in terms of lobbying for keystone,” said McGrane of the Saskatchewan government.
“Brad Wall has been extremely aggressive, more aggressive than I can remember any premier in recent memory being in Saskatchewan, in terms of trying to push for something in the United States,” he added.
Not everyone is as excited about Keystone project. Environmentalists across North America have protested its construction, arguing it would escalate oil-sands production and in turn increase emissions.
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“At some point when you’re talking about the safety of future generations and the quality of life on the planet, you have to set short term economics aside,” said Peter Prebble, the director of environmental policy for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society.
“In a U.S. context, a Republican majority in the Senate and House of Representatives tends to make for weaker environmental legislation,” he added.
Boyd rejected the project would be environmentally unfriendly, adding that he believed “these pipelines can be built in a responsible fashion.”
However, many Democratic members of congress share concerns about the environmental impact of the project, and U.S. President Barack Obama could veto the legislation if it passes through congress. Republicans would need a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers of Congress to over-ride a presidential veto.