Alberta farm groups express support for pipeline expansion

A pipeline worker inspects a pipeline (source: CEPA).

Farm groups in Alberta are applauding the provincial government’s effort to advance oil pipelines, thereby taking pressure off the rail freight system.

“Team Alberta” sent a letter to Premier Rachel Notley this week expressing support for the Trans Mountain pipeline and other crude oil pipelines.

The Trans Mountain line was approved by the federal government in 2016, but B.C.’s government has called for further review of the oil-spill risk, leading to the current dispute between the two western provinces. With a provincial election looming in 2019, Notley has become increasingly vocal in recent weeks, trying to force B.C. to allow construction to the West Coast.

“We know that existing pipeline capacities have been reached and that demands of crude oil shipments by rail reduces capacity of the entire rail freight system,” says the letter signed by Alberta Barley, Alberta Canola, Alberta Pulse, and Alberta Wheat.

Read the letter signed by Alberta Barley, Alberta Canola, Alberta Pulse, and Alberta Wheat

The group references the current shipping delays, as well as the grain backlog of 2013-14, as an illustration of how rail constraints have a negative impact on export-oriented industries, like agriculture.

“The market dictates the price of oil and grain, which causes systematic fluctuations on the freight rail system and inversely impacts the flow of goods, especially given the railways’ status quo approach to capacity and providing unreliable service. While we are hopeful the federal government’s Transportation Modernization Act (Bill C-49) will help to rectify imbalances of accountability and improve service standards in the rail freight system, demands on the system continue to grow,” say the commodity groups.

Premier Notley acknowledged the letter in a tweet on Thursday, thanking the four provincial groups for sharing their position.

 

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Kelvin Heppner

Kelvin Heppner is a field editor and radio host for RealAgriculture and RealAg Radio. He's been reporting on agriculture on the prairies and across Canada since 2008(ish). He farms with his family near Altona, Manitoba, and is on Twitter at @realag_kelvin. @realag_kelvin

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