Feds Green-Light Enbridge’s Controversial Northern Gateway Project

The Canadian government has agreed to allow Enbridge to proceed with its Northern Gateway Pipelines, which would see the construction and operation of two parallel pipelines to transport crude oil between Bruderheim, Alberta and Kitimat, British Columbia, and a marine terminal at the port of Kitimat.

“In December 2013, the Joint Review Panel found that construction and operation of the Northern Gateway Pipelines project is in the public interest, subject to 209 conditions being met by the proponent,” says Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Greg Rickford, in a statement outlining the government’s decision. “After carefully reviewing the report, the Government accepts the independent Panel’s recommendation to impose 209 conditions on Northern Gateway Pipelines’ proposal.”

These 209 conditions recommended by the National Energy Board include further talks with Aboriginal communities affected by the pipeline and regulatory approvals from the governments of Alberta and British Columbia.

The B.C. government officially declared its opposition to the pipeline in 2012, recommending to the federal panel reviewing the project that it shouldn’t go ahead as planned.

“We need to ensure that B.C.’s concerns around the environment, First Nations’ participation and overall economic benefit are taken seriously,’ says Mary Polak, B.C’s minister of environment, in a statement released today. “We understand the economic benefits that the Northern Gateway project may bring, but it will not be at the cost of our environment.”

The B.C. government has set out five conditions that must be met before it will agree to the pipeline. They include oil-spill prevention and recovery systems; legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights; and the province receiving a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits.

Opponents of the pipeline are calling for provincial referendums, as well as continued vocal criticism from environmental groups, scientists and politicians.

“Today’s Cabinet decision had been a foregone conclusion,” said Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich­–Gulf Islands. “We will continue to fight this ill-advised, reckless and dangerous scheme and we will stop it from ever being built.”