January 24, 2017 2:26 pm
Updated: January 26, 2017 2:43 am

Alberta government ‘welcomes news’ on Keystone: Notley speaks following Trump’s order

WATCH: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says the latest move by the U.S. on Keystone is a good first step and stressed the province's focus on jobs.

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Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said news that President Donald Trump moved to advance construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is a good first step, but the government will keep its eyes on what happens next.

“Our government welcomes news that the United States has taken an important step towards moving forward with the Keystone XL pipeline,” Notley said.

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Trump announced plans for both Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines Tuesday, a pair of projects that were blocked by the Obama administration due in part to environmental concerns. Both orders are subject to renegotiations of the agreements.

READ MORE: Donald Trump signs orders approving Keystone, Dakota pipelines 

Watch below: U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to move forward with the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The project means a lot to oil-rich Alberta and the approval comes as Trump ushers in a policy of “Americans first.” Fletcher Kent reports.

“The U.S. is an extremely valuable customer of ours,” Notley said.

“This project is going to create good jobs here in Alberta and that’s my focus – support our workers, create good jobs and diversify our economy.”

Notley stressed that while the U.S. is an important partner, Alberta and Canada must focus on getting Canadian products to Canadian tidewater.

“You cannot have just one customer,” she explained.

WATCH:The Keystone XL pipeline has been approved by President Donald Trump, allowing construction of the pipeline. Global’s David Boushy reports.

Trump also signed a notice requiring the materials for the pipelines to be constructed in the United States, though it was unclear how he planned to enforce the measure.

“From now, we are going to start making pipelines in the United States,” Trump said from the Oval Office.

Notley said the NDP would continue to monitor the situation closely and keep in close contact with Alberta officials in Washington.

“There’s going to continue to be debate on this issue across the continent. I think the nature of debate in the U.S. bears watching and bears monitoring… This is why we’re working very closely with our officials in Washington to keep track of how these issues navigate their way through the process.”

“We’re going to take it one step at a time,” the premier said. “This is a good first step and we’ll keep our eyes on what happens next.”

READ MORE: Trudeau ‘disappointed’ with Obama’s decision to reject Keystone XL pipeline  

In a statement, TransCanada said:

“We appreciate the President of the United States inviting us to re-apply for KXL.  We are currently preparing the application and intend to do so. KXL creates thousands of well-paying construction jobs and would generate tens of millions of dollars in annual property taxes to counties along the route as well as more than $3 billion to the U.S. GDP. With best-in-class technology and construction techniques that protect waterways and other sensitive environmental resources, KXL represents the safest, most environmentally sound way to connect the American economy to an abundant energy resource.”

Former President Barack Obama stopped the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in late 2015, declaring it would have undercut U.S. efforts to clinch a global climate change deal that was a centrepiece of his environmental legacy. The pipeline would run from Canada to Nebraska where it would connect to existing lines running to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast. The U.S. government needs to approve the pipeline because it would cross the nation’s northern border.

Watch below: When Premier Notley expressed her support of Donald Trump’s approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, it raised a few eyebrows. Fletcher Kent takes a look at what amounts to a shift in NDP policy.

In November, Notley said she was “not surprised” but “disappointed” by the decision.

“I am disappointed by the way the U.S. government chose to characterize our energy exports,” she said on Nov. 6. “The decision today underlines the need to improve our environmental record and reputation so that we can achieve our goal of building Canada’s energy infrastructure, including pipelines to new markets.”

“I fundamentally believe that the decision to deny that pipeline was one of the biggest domestic policy errors of the previous administration,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Tuesday. “I am certainly happy to see that executive order signed. I know that TransCanada and others will work to meet the conditions that are discussed here.

“It is important for Canadian energy to have access to global markets,” Nenshi said. “It is important for the prosperity of our nation for that to happen.”

“It’s important that oil from a place that has high labour, environment and human rights standards is the kind of oil that is meeting the energy needs of the world. So I of course am very pleased to see that.”

READ MORE: Donald Trump supports pipeline, will review decision to stop construction

“When we combine that with the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline, as well as what I hope will be the approval of Energy East, we will then finally have the solution to make sure that Canadian energy gets to markets it needs to,” Nenshi said.

Minister of natural resources Jim Carr told Reuters the approval of the Keystone pipeline would be very positive for Canada.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Ottawa has yet to hear anything in formal from the Trump administration but said the government has long supported the Keystone pipeline.

WATCH: Keystone approval by Trump ‘very positive’ for Canada

READ MORE: Brad Wall welcomes Trump’s approval of Keystone XL pipeline 

In a statement, Greenpeace Canada Climate and Energy campaigner Mike Hudema said:

“People on both sides of the border will be there to stand with Indigenous nations, and all those that believe in Indigenous reconciliation and a climate safe future to ensure these pipelines don’t make it in the ground.

“The question for Canadians is: will the prime minister continue to align himself with a climate denying Trump administration, or will he stand with the people and with science and start living up to his own commitments to the climate and Indigenous rights?

“The prime minister can’t keep saying he will lead on climate while building three new tar sands pipelines. Alternative facts may work in the U.S. administration but they shouldn’t be tolerated here.”

READ MORE: Alberta ministers booed as they discuss climate-change plan with rural leaders 

Notley said Tuesday she “absolutely” feels Alberta’s resource and climate plans can co-exist.

“At the end of the day, the emissions cap is the emissions cap. This isn’t about increasing the amount that is extracted.”

“The climate leadership plan remains in place. I’m confident that energy producers that signed onto it, who are trying so hard to reduce emissions… will continue to do that,” she said.

Notley said, regardless of the political climate, there is going to be a world demand for “more progressive,” “more responsibly produced” energy.

“I don’t think the two are in contradiction with each other.”

The Associated Press and The Canadian Press

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc

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