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Trump approves Alberta-Alaska rail line project; line would move oil, other resources

Click to play video 'Proposed rail line provides hope in Alberta’s oilpatch' Proposed rail line provides hope in Alberta’s oilpatch
WATCH: Proposed rail line provides hope in Alberta's oilpatch

U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he was issuing a presidential permit for the A2A Cross-Border Rail project.

The project — which would see a 2,570-kilometre rail track running from near Anchorage, Alaska, through Yukon and the Northwest Territories into northern Alberta — will cost about C$22 billion.

Trump’s approval is just the first step in the regulatory process on the U.S. side.

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Now, the company will need to go through a U.S. review process and get the necessary licenses and permits for interstate railroad commerce on that side of the border.

On the Canadian side, A2A first needs the project to go through an environmental impact assessment. After that, the company would then go through Canadian federal and provincial approvals for the project.

Click to play video 'Looking to build on Alberta’s oil and gas industry' Looking to build on Alberta’s oil and gas industry
Looking to build on Alberta’s oil and gas industry

On Saturday, Christine Myatt, spokesperson for the office of the premier, said the Alberta government supported the news.

“The Government of Alberta is glad to see the approval of the A2A rail project in the United States,” Myatt said in an email to Global News.

“We support the development of trade corridors that can unlock new markets for Alberta’s products.”

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Click to play video 'Alberta to Alaska railway would move oil, other resources' Alberta to Alaska railway would move oil, other resources
Alberta to Alaska railway would move oil, other resources

In a July news release, A2A said the project would generate thousands of jobs for Canadians if it is constructed.

“This is a world-class infrastructure project that will generate more than 18,000 jobs for Canadian workers at a time when they are most needed, provide a new, more efficient route for trans-Pacific shipping and thereby link Alberta to world markets,” said A2A Rail Founder Sean McCoshen.

Read more: Oil by rail shipments collapse amid Alberta government production cuts

A2A said in July that it had commissioned an engineering firm to survey land in Alberta for the project and eventually engage in early field activities like land clearing, fencing and access road preparation.

Concept map of the A2A Alaska-Alberta rail line.
Concept map of the A2A Alaska-Alberta rail line. Courtesy / A2A

The Alberta government paid for a feasibility study on the concept of a rail line running between the province and Alaska in 2015 — which said while a railway would be challenging to build through the area, it would provide an alternative to pipeline transportation for oil.

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The A2A line would transport oil, as well as grain, ore, and other containerized goods.  

A2A, which first began work on the line in 2015, is one of two companies that have pitched similar projects over the past several years. Another company, G7G, has also pitched a similar project.

Click to play video 'Proposed Alberta-Alaska railway to get oil to market' Proposed Alberta-Alaska railway to get oil to market
Proposed Alberta-Alaska railway to get oil to market