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First Nations, tribal leaders support Alaska-Alberta rail link


First Nations and Alaskan Tribes have expressed their support for a new "purpose built" railroad that would link Alaska, Yukon, northern British Columbia and northern Alberta to the rest of North America.

Proposed by G Seven Generations Ltd. (G7G), the railroad would provide access to Pacific tidewater, enabling the import and export of commodities, including oil sands products.

"Studies have already demonstrated that a rail link to Alaska is a viable alternative to the oil pipelines currently being planned through British Columbia," said G7G Partner and Chief Executive Officer Matt Vickers in a prepared statement. "This approach is timely because it promises significant economic benefits to First Nations communities and all of Canada while avoiding many of the environmental risks associated with current pipeline proposals and related supertanker traffic off B.C.'s west coast."

The proposed 1,500-mile railroad would run northwest from Fort McMurray, Alberta, and connect with the Alyeska Pipeline at Delta Junction, about 80 miles south of Fairbanks, Alaska. The rail link would use an existing marine terminal in Valdez, Alaska, which is facing declining supply of oil from Alaska's North Slope. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System currently carries oil from the North Slope to the Valdez marine super tanker terminal.

G7G officials have conducted outreach programs with First Nations and tribal leadership and now are hosting community meetings. The firm has offered the First Nations and tribal groups a 50 percent stake in the railroad.

"The First Nations fully support the concept because, in reality, if we don't take the initiative, somebody else will," said Simon Mervyn, chief of First Nation Na-cho Nyak Dun.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/16/2012