Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline wins approval from Harper government

First Nations and environmental groups blast decision on $7.9-billion project

The Stephen Harper government has given its conditional stamp of approval to Enbridge's controversial Northern Gateway pipeline project.


What do you think of the federal government's decision on the Enbridge pipeline?

Agree 11%
24 votes
Disagree 88%
192 votes
Don't care 1%
2 votes


The $7.9-billion project would transport oil from the Alberta tar sands across British Columbia to Asia. Twin pipelines would carry 525,000 barrels of diluted bitumen and 193,000 barrels of condensate per day between Bruderheim, Alberta, and Kitimat, B.C., where the oil would be loaded onto 220 tankers per year.

“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. After carefully reviewing the report, the Government accepts the independent Panel’s recommendation to impose 209 conditions on Northern Gateway Pipelines’ proposal," Minister of Natural Resources Greg Rickford said in a statement today (June 17).

“Today constitutes another step in the process. Moving forward, the proponent must demonstrate to the independent regulator, the NEB, how it will meet the 209 conditions. It will also have to apply for regulatory permits and authorizations from federal and provincial governments. In addition, consultations with Aboriginal communities are required under many of the 209 conditions that have been established and as part of the process for regulatory authorizations and permits. The proponent clearly has more work to do in order to fulfill the public commitment it has made to engage with Aboriginal groups and local communities along the route.”

Rickford said the National Energy Board will now issue certificates of public convenience and necessity to Enbridge.

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan responded to the decision by stating that, in contrast to the liquefied natural gas "opportunity", the Enbridge proposal presents much risk but little benefit to the province.

“This is a bad day for British Columbians who believe, as I do, that B.C. needs to create more new jobs through resource development that benefits our communities and protects our land, air and water,” Horgan said in a news release. “We have consistently opposed this plan to transport Alberta bitumen to tankers on B.C.’s north coast because the risks to our environment, communities and economy are too great.”

A coalition of First Nations, including the Gitgaat, Haisla, and Tsleil-Waututh, issued a joint statement "unequivocally" rejecting the decision and promising to fight the project in court using "all lawful means".

"This project, and the federal process to approve it, violated our rights and our laws. We are uniting to defend our lands and waters of our respective territories. Our rights and laws compel us to act," the First Nations stated.

The Coastal First Nations pronounced the project as "effectively dead".

“It’s an approval in name only. This project is dead,” said Art Sterritt, executive director of the Coastal First Nations, in a release. “The project can’t proceed with these conditions. We’ve been clear there is no technology to clean up an oil spill and the dispersant that is used causes more damage than the oil itself.”

The Northern Gateway pipeline would cross northern B.C.
Joint Review Panel

Environmentalists also wasted no time in criticizing the government's decision.

“Even if we were to avoid a tar sands spill along our coastline, we’ll still be burdened with the guaranteed spill of a hundred million tonnes of climate changing gases into our atmosphere every single year,” Eoin Madden, the Wilderness Committee’s climate campaigner, said in a release. “We know the true costs of this pipeline when it comes to our coast and our climate – and saddling British Columbians with these costs won’t fly.”

ForestEthics Advocacy vowed to make the pipeline a federal election issue in 2015.

“This isn’t over until tankers are filling up with Enbridge’s oil on the coast, and that is never going to happen - the people of BC have spoken and are steadfast against it,” said Ben West, tar sands campaign director for ForestEthics, in a release. “Prime Minister Harper will likely regret trying to push this politically toxic project on BC in the lead up to a close election.”

Ecojustice asserted that the decision doesn't mean that the pipeline will become a reality.

“Eighteen months of regulatory hearings made one thing clear: Northern Gateway is a risky and unnecessary project that does not serve the national interest of Canada or Canadians,” said Ecojustice staff lawyer Barry Robinson in a release.

“We are deeply disappointed, but you need to look no further than the spate of legal challenges filed against this project to know that Cabinet’s approval is by no means a guarantee that this project will ever be built.”

In April, Kitimat residents rejected the Northern Gateway project in a non-binding plebiscite. 1,793 residents (58.4 percent) voted "no" and 1,278 residents (41.6 percent) cast "yes" ballots in the northwestern B.C. municipality.

“The Federal Government continues to ignore the will of British Columbians,” said Andrew Weaver, Green MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, in a release. “The fact is, Kitimat is opposed to this project. First Nations are opposed to it. British Columbians are opposed to it. It’s time for the Provincial Government to draw a line in the sand, and reject the Northern Gateway project.” 

In Vancouver, a "Stop Enbridge" rally is planned for this evening at 6 p.m. at 700 Hamilton Street, near the Vancouver Public Library and Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

The Dogwood Initiative is laying the groundwork for a Fight HST-style citizen's initiative seeking a provincewide vote on the Enbridge project.

Comments (24) Add New Comment
Sally Snyder
Here’s what oil sands mining operations look like from the air:


While everyone focuses on the greenhouse gas emissions and the environmental impact of pipelines and oil spills, a very significant ecological issue is connected to the mining operations which will grow at an increased rate as production ramps up once pipelines are available to export bitumen.
Rating: +1
Some strategic voting among anti-Harper voters will probably be required to stop the travesty of Harper and his Enbridge Northern Gateway friends. I hope the federal opposition parties check their egos at the door and do some cooperating as Stephan Dion and Elizabeth May were capable of.
Rating: +15
This is the best news I heard all week. The anti-oil shills and the rest of their hippocrit friends can go suck it. Despite what they believe, that oil is what will maintain and improve everyone's standard of living so they can go on and keep protesting whatever the travesty of the day is. And by the looks of my stock portfolio I think I'll be in the market for a private island soon...
Rating: -55
Don't allow your ideology to be facts! Evidence based government is what we need!
Rating: -9
May our children and grandchildren forgive us! If we continue in the direction of destroying our environment for profit. We are taking the future away from future generations. Only if the gift of intelligence we were given could used for good. We should use it to protect our planet and our environment, not destroy and exploit it for profit.
Vive la Revolution!
Rating: +3
John Galt
Rating: +3
These bozos don't have enough courage to lead this country to renewable energy options. They are losing out on more jobs and opportunities for Canadians (repeat CANADIANS) and have been proving themselves completely incompetent. RECALL!!!!
Rating: +14
This is the hill the conservative party dies on.
Rating: +23
Meathead: I hope you put all your eggs in one basket! Keep buying those oil and gas shares. Happy retirement! Ha!
Rating: +6
Has anybody complaining about the oilsands actually been to Fort McMurray? If not then shut up. All you know is the BS that the hippies want you to hear. To you guys the oilsands is something to whine and complain about. To me and the 80,000 others in the Wood Buffalo Region, it's an amazing opportunity to make some major money ($100,000+ a year) I myself grossed over $200k working 14 on 7 off in the oilsands. This anti-development stigma is the whole reason I left BC and exactly why BC's economy is always in the toilet. But whatever, this pipeline will go through and the oilsands workers, myself included, will continue on making the big money while the rest of you lazy buggers lounge around and collect your welfare checks from the taxes of our hard earned dollars.
Rating: -32
Never voted in my life but I think I may need to this time. Got to make sure we keep the Harper Government in power. It's about time we had a government with some balls.
Rating: -24
Hippy with attitude
Anyone who believes money from this project is the only way to get rich is so dull and backward thinking, that it bores me to even read your posts.

Try to think towards the future, so we can all live rich and in abundance forevermore. Think about jobs that can be created in renewable energy instead of short term destructive means. There is no reason why we cannot sell technology and create jobs based on eco-friendly products and services.

As for heading up to Ft Mac, no thank you. Production up there has ruined the air quality to the point of people becoming sick. Don't bring those ideals here. Money won't save your health and well being.

Stop being so short-sighted and selfish.
Rating: +25
Here is what the Tar Sands look like from the air.

Rating: 0
Rating: +10
Harper has miscalculated, he now has succeeded in creating the biggest shit storm this country has seen since the Oca crisis, and to think we have a government here, who along with the feds are actually going go down this road. I would recommend reading an article in the Winnipeg Free Press, "How to prevent a native uprising" Dec 5 2011, then decide if this project is worth it.
Rating: +10
@ Jimmy "worked 14 on 7 off" in the Tar sands and now he's a crack head.
Rating: +2
Wake up
Well I'm up in the Oil Sands right now. I laugh when I see things like aerial shots. Not sure how it's much worse/different than modern cities/towns. With the way everyone talks I almost expected to come up here and have asthma or something. I will say the air quality is good on site here, breathing fresh air, and the sky is clear and blue! Certainly pales in comparison to some of those major US cities or even Toronto.

All of the propaganda shots you may see is probably from Syncrude or Suncor since they were the first ones built. You can't expect plants that were built 50, 60 years ago to be low emissions, but I can assure you they do not represent at all what is going on up here. Having said that while you can see a bit more pollution pumping out of those first gen plants you can see areas that have been reclaimed and you would never know that they were there. So all of these aerial shots will someday look completely normal. Even the tailings ponds I thought were actual lakes at first until someone told me what they were and you can see the remains of one around Syncrude that is being filled in and it just looks like sand now. Again you would not have known it was there before. Of course we see people on the side of the road taking some pictures when right behind them is a nice park from reclaimed land. Also you clean energy guys need to realize that windmills kill far more birds than any tailings ponds.

Some have mentioned only temporary jobs for building the pipelines, but I can't tell you enough how many people in Calgary and up here are begging for this to go through. It may greatly affect the ability for many of us to support our families here in Alberta.

Rating: -12
Alan Layton
I think 'Jimmy' is a perfect example of how overexposure to volatile organic compounds can destroy your brain. Thankfully he's out of BC and with the rest of the dullards working the oil fields. Please don't come back Jimmy.
Rating: +7
Last year PV solar became cheaper than coal generated power. In a few years it will be cheaper than natural gas generated power. Sales of battery-electric vehicles are doubling every year. Per-capita miles driven have been falling since 2006.

There's no possible excuse for this sh!t anymore. It's like doubling down on stupid.
Rating: +7
Randy R
Nice try guys. The company I work for requires yearly medical testing and in 8 years of working in the mine sites, my health or lung function has not declined one bit. I know people who have grown up in Fort McMurray and not one of them has any serious health problems. Everything Wake Up and Jimmy says about the oilsands is true. This is the problem with society today, everyone jumps on the bandwagon and only hears what they want to hear. I encourage you to do a little more research and maybe actually come and see what the oilsands are all about before making yourself look stupid. FYI that computer you're typing on required about 40L of oil to produce and those iPhones everyone is raving about needed about 6L of oil to be manufactured.
Rating: -12


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