Sask. will see boost from pipelines
- 1 Dec 2016
- Saskatoon StarPhoenix
- BRUCE JOHNSTONE
Sask. may see boost from pipelines
Premier says projects will lead to jobs here, but critics still opposed
Evraz North America, the United Steelworkers and Premier Brad Wall applauded the federal government’s decision Tuesday to approve two major energy pipeline projects, especially Enbridge’s $7.5-billion Line 3 project, which is expected to source most of its pipe from Evraz’s large-diameter pipe facilities in Regina.
(Enbridge’s controversial Northern Gateway project — approved by the Harper government in 2014, but overturned earlier this year by a federal court ruling that indigenous people had not been properly consulted — was rejected by the Liberal government.)
Environmentalists and a number of indigenous groups remain opposed to any expansion of energy pipelines, which they claim will increase the reliance on fossil fuels and pose environmental risks to people, wildlife, water and land.
Wall, who has publicly battled with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government over carbon pricing, the coal phase-out plan and other climate change initiatives, personally thanked Trudeau for approving the two projects.
“The federal government’s announcement today with respect to pipelines is a step in the right direction and we welcome the approval of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain and Enbridge’s Line 3,’’ Wall said in a statement.
“As for the latter pipeline, it will involve significant investment and new jobs in Saskatchewan during construction, and it will create opportunities for Regina-based Evraz,” Wall said. Evraz said the vast majority of the pipe for the Enbridge Line 3 replacement project will be made in Canada by members of the United Steelworkers union at its Regina facility.
“At this site, we have over 1,000 Canadians with well-paying, highly-skilled, middle-class jobs,’’ Conrad Winkler, Evraz North America president and CEO, said in a news release.
“These projects will be among the largest infrastructure programs in North America, bringing in millions of dollars in tax revenues and contributing billions to the GDP of Canada and the U.S., directly and indirectly.”
Leslie McNabb, international staff rep for USW, which represents unionized workers at Evraz Regina, said approval of Line 3 is “great news’’ for USW Local 5890 members, 125 of whom were laid off at Evraz Regina’s pipe division earlier this year.
Courtland Klein, secretary of USWA Local 5890, said that those laid-off workers have been called back and Evraz is hiring more workers.
“Imagine if they hadn’t approved the pipeline,” Klein said. “We probably would have been seeing layoffs.’’
But environmental groups take the opposite view, saying the pipeline projects make no economic sense and will increase risks to the environment. Earlier this year, environmental groups concerned about the health of the Qu’Appelle Valley and its lakes became more vocal and active.
Randy Lebell of the Qu’Appelle Valley Environmental Association (QVEA), which raised concerns about the proposed Yancoal solution potash mine project near Southey, questioned the reasons behind the approval of the pipelines, particularly the Line 3 replacement because of its proximity to water sources in the valley.
“When stuff goes into the water it stays there,” he said.
The decision to pump the bitumen from the Alberta oilsands doesn’t make sense on many levels, he added.
“They will argue that it will increase jobs, but it’s still taking us into a no-win situation. It takes us further away of the (greenhouse gas) emissions goals that were set out for us in Paris, with the increased production.”
Sherrie Bellegarde, one of the founders of Keepers of the Water, said she was not surprised by the decision to approve the pipelines, calling Canada’s continued dependence on fossil fuels “an addiction.”
She said until society realizes it does not have to rely on oil and gas to survive, the interests of big oil and gas corporations will continue to be served.
“We survived 150 years without oil and gas,” she said. “There is alternative energy.”
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) says protection of the land and water and consultation with First Nations must be top priorities during the construction of Enbridge’s Line 3 project, which crosses through Treaty Six and Treaty Four territories.
First Nations are meeting with Enbridge officials in Calgary this week, determined to play a meaningful role as plans to replace a pipeline on Treaty territories takes shape.
Governments, the National Energy Board (NEB) and industry must stop ignoring the Treaty and inherent rights of First Nations people when making decisions that affect their lands and waters, said Bobby Cameron, Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.
“The inclusion was not there when it came time to approve or not approve the pipeline. We had to read about it in the news,” Cameron said.
The Calgary meeting was ordered by the federal government as part of the NEB’s April 2016 report outlining conditions Enbridge must meet in constructing Line 3.
Cameron said leaders in Saskatchewan will be watching their phones to see if their priorities are respected.
“It would be absolutely crucial to have an elders advisory board, to have an oversight committee, to have representation right on the National Energy Board where decisions are being made. That’s inclusion.”