Ottawa says yes to Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline

Ottawa says yes to Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline

Northern Gateway is set to open Alberta's oil sands industry to Asia's oil-hungry markets.

Canada’s federal government has given Enbridge's (TSX, NYSE:ENB) controversial Northern Gateway pipeline the green light to proceed in what was the final legal hurdle for the project first submitted for permits in May 2010.

Greg Rickford, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, announced the approval with conditions.

“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," said Rickford in a news release.

"After carefully reviewing the report, the Government accepts the independent Panel’s recommendation to impose 209 conditions on Northern Gateway Pipelines’ proposal.

The $7 billion (and climbing) pipeline, which will transport oil from northern Alberta to a tanker port in Kitimat, on the northern coast of British Columbia, claimed a small victory on December last year.  A joint review panel that heard from communities along the proposed route prompted the National Energy Board to approve the project, but with 209 conditions.

Ottawa says yes to Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline

Supporters applauded Ottawa’s decision, which they think will be a boost to the Canadian economy, worth an estimated $300 billion to the country’s gross domestic product over 30 years. The pipeline is also expected to create thousands of new jobs and training opportunities.

Northern Gateway’s long list of opponents, including environmental groups, residents groups, and several First Nations were disappointed.

The pipeline foes say the approval is a major tragedy for B.C.'s coastline and the Great Bear Rainforest, due to potential oil spills and the difficulty tankers would have navigating the islands of the Douglas Channel.

First Nations groups, known for their fierce opposition to the project since the beginning, reiterated they would challenge the federal decision in court.

Rickford weighed in.

"[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.”

Here is how the battle between Enbridge and opposition groups was played out on YouTube.

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Main image by Michael Chu | Flickr Commons.