June 19, 2019 7:58 pm
Updated: June 20, 2019 7:14 am

Trans Mountain expansion will benefit Saskatchewan farmers: professor

WATCH ABOVE: The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will make room for agricultural products, a professor said.

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Saskatchewan farmers will have more rail cars to carry their products should the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion go ahead, according to a political scientist.

Shipping delays and hauling backlogs have long been a concern for grain farmers. Following a widely successful 2017 harvest, producers watched helplessly as railways were unable to move their product.

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READ MORE: Trans Mountain pipeline expansion gets green light to proceed

Greg Poelzer, with the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) School of Environment and Sustainability, said efforts to get oil to market via train have used up rail cars that could carry grain.

“Trans Mountain is a big win for our agricultural producers of Saskatchewan,” Poelzer said.

On Tuesday, the federal government announced the approval for the expansion of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline. The government purchased the project for $4.5 billion last year after Kinder Morgan walked away from it amid political and regulatory uncertainty.

The Trans Mountain pipeline system runs from Alberta to B.C. and doesn’t carry any product from Saskatchewan.

READ MORE: Burnaby mayor says city’s pipeline concerns have been ignored, talked over

Poelzer said Saskatchewan’s oil sector will still benefit, in part, because of expected increases in Canadian oil prices courtesy of demand from markets off the west coast.

According to Natural Resources Canada, 99 per cent of Canadian oil is exported to the United States. As a result, American buyers get a discounted price.

Some Indigenous groups, including many in B.C., oppose the pipeline based on concerns over oil spills and other environmental hazards. At the same time, Poelzer said First Nations have a chance to make a major investment.

“There’s an opportunity for equity ownership in the Trans Mountain pipeline. The prime minister has indicated that,” Poelzer said.

READ MORE: With Trans Mountain expansion greenlit again, Indigenous leaders vow to fight on

After the pipeline received approval initially, the Federal Court of Appeal levied an injunction against the pipeline’s construction last summer, stating the government failed to properly consult First Nations.

Tuesday’s approval could provide a “road map” for future pipeline projects like Energy East, according to Poelzer.

Steelworkers at Evraz “would love” for a project like Energy East go through, said Mike Day, president of United Steelworkers Local 5890.

“It would only mean more work for our facility here in Regina and good things for the economy of Regina,” Day said.

READ MORE: Regina steelworkers feel ‘betrayed’ after Trans-Mountain expansion quashed

As Trans Canada’s primary pipeline supplier, Evraz has completed about 60 per cent of its project so far, Day said.

During a visit to Evraz last summer, Day said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told workers the pipeline would get built. A year later, Day said concerns from environmentalists and the B.C. government have been frustrating.

“We’ve got two green lights. How many more before it gets in the ground?”

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