Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline wins approval from Harper government

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

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

      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.



      Sally Snyder

      Jun 17, 2014 at 2:25pm

      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.


      Jun 17, 2014 at 2:30pm

      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.


      Jun 17, 2014 at 2:43pm

      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...


      Jun 17, 2014 at 2:48pm

      Don't allow your ideology to be facts! Evidence based government is what we need!


      Jun 17, 2014 at 2:55pm

      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!


      Jun 17, 2014 at 3:05pm

      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!!!!


      Jun 17, 2014 at 3:34pm

      This is the hill the conservative party dies on.


      Jun 17, 2014 at 5:46pm

      Meathead: I hope you put all your eggs in one basket! Keep buying those oil and gas shares. Happy retirement! Ha!


      Jun 17, 2014 at 6:00pm

      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.