Trump issues permit for Alaska-to-Alberta railway

Washington | Reuters — U.S. President Donald Trump has issued a presidential permit for a private-sector proposal to build a railway from northeastern Alberta’s oil sands to ports in Alaska, a project that still faces numerous hurdles.

Trump said over the weekend on Twitter he would issue the permit, which he signed on Monday but was released by the White House late on Tuesday. Projects that cross the U.S. border require presidential permits.

The Alaska-Alberta Railway Development Corporation (A2A Rail) project would move Alberta crude 2,570 km to the Alaskan coast, as well as freight in the other direction.

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Backers of the US$17 billion project hope it will be in service by the end of the decade.

Calgary-based A2A said in a release Tuesday, however, that it’s ready to begin “soft construction” this year, and estimated its completion at that rate in 2025 and operation in 2026.

A2A would still require numerous regulatory clearances in the U.S. and Canada that would likely take years.

The company said Tuesday it would work with U.S. and Canadian federal, state and provincial government entities to “minimize” the project timeline.

The proposed rail line could carry up to two million barrels of oil per day, along with potash, sulphur and grain that often back up at Vancouver, said Mead Treadwell, A2A’s vice-chair for Alaska.

The company’s chairman, Canadian financier Sean McCoshen, said Tuesday the project “could unlock $60 billion in additional cumulative (gross domestic product) through 2040 and create more than 28,000 jobs.”

Moving commodities and other goods out of ports in Alaska, the company said, could also reduce end-to-end shipping times between North America and Asia by as much as two to four days.

Trump’s permit, McCoshen said, is “a significant milestone that will greatly assist with our continued efforts.”

— Reporting for Reuters by Eric Beech in Washington. Includes files from Glacier FarmMedia Network staff.

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