Canadian Review Panel Gives Northern Gateway Pipeline The Green Light


A Canadian review panel has recommended that the Northern Gateway pipeline project be given the go-ahead by the federal government as long as 209 conditions are met. As the CBC reports, the conditions include “developing a marine mammal protection plan, researching heavy oil cleanup and conducting emergency response exercises.”

None of those 209 conditions directly address carbon pollution or climate change, even though this project would transport up to 525,000 barrels of tar sands from Alberta to British Columbia.

“After weighing all the oral and written evidence, the panel found that Canada and Canadians would be better off with the Enbridge Northern Gateway project than without it,” the panel said in a release.

The Canadian government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, now has 180 days to make the final decision on the project.

The three-person National Energy Board panel held hearings for more than a year in Alberta and B.C. to hear residents’ thoughts and concerns about the project. The panel said it took those concerns into account when evaluating the project, and also included “its examination of the potential environmental effects of the project and their significance…[and] issues relating to routing and land matters, safety and economic feasibility and whether the project is in the Canadian public interest,” according to the CBC.

If the $6.5-billion project is approved, two pipelines will be built stretching about 730 miles from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, B.C. One pipeline will transport about 525,000 barrels of tar sands bitumen each day from Alberta to B.C. for export to Asian markets — the other would carry around 193,000 barrels per day of condensate, the mix of liquid hydrocarbons that’s used to dilute heavy tar sands so it can be transported, back to Alberta.

The Northern Gateway has faced strong opposition from many Canadians, who are worried about the threat of spills on the coast and the continued development of the Alberta tar sands, since the proposal was first developed in the mid-2000s. Canada’s First Nations have been particularly vocal in their opposition, with one spokesman vowing that the groups will maintain a “wall of opposition” against the project. About 130 First Nations have signed on to the Save the Fraser declaration, which aims to ban all tar sands pipelines from First Nations territory and from the ocean migration routes of the Fraser River salmon. Unions, too, have pledged their opposition to the project — this month, the largest private-sector union in Canada signed on to the Save the Fraser declaration, along with the B.C.’s Teachers’ Federation and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

This November, several thousand Canadians gathered in Vancouver to protest the Northern Gateway, and in 2012, 3,500 protesters gathered in front of the B.C. legislature to voice their opposition to the project.