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article imageAlberta and B.C. fight over Northern Gateway pipeline intensifies

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By Grace C. Visconti     Oct 4, 2012 in Environment
Calgary - The battle between Alberta and British Columbia over the Northern Gateway pipeline project intensifies and continues with no sign of it letting up as Premiers Alison Redford and Christy Clark have a ‘frosty’ meeting in Calgary, Alberta.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford and B.C. Premier Christy Clark met on Monday, October 1st to discuss the $6 billion Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline project that will be installed from Alberta across the province of B.C. to the port at Kitimat. According to a CBC report Redford, Clark make little progress at ‘frosty’ meeting, both Premiers admitted the meeting did not go well.
In a detailed letter to Premier Redford, five requirements must be adhered to before the project can receive support from the B.C. government. They are as follows:
1) Successful completion of the environmental review process and a recommendation by the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel approval.

2) World-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recover systems for B.C.’s coastline to manage and mitigate the risks of heavy oil pipelines and shipments.

3) World-leading practices for land oil-spill prevention, response and recover systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines.

4) Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed. Also, First Nations will have opportunities, information and resources to participate and benefit from the Enbridge project.

5) British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of this heavy oil project that reflects the level and nature of risk for the province, environment, and taxpayers.
Although the major concern is over the environmental risks of oil spills from the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline across a vast area and coastline, these other concerns and requirements must be met, especially the payout demand by the B.C. government. However, Clark claims that the royalties are the least important yet this is the contentious issue and highly objectionable demand. Until the first three conditions are met, the project “can’t go ahead.” Although the Northern Gateway is important financially for Alberta and Canada, B.C. has other developing booming industries, one of them being natural gas.
On Tuesday, October 2nd, Premier Clark spoke to students at the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary. She discussed the wealth that five big liquefied natural gas proposals, if followed through, would bring over a trillion dollars to B.C.’s GDP in a 30 year period. This is huge for B.C. because once the five plants are operational, it will produce the equivalent of approximately two million barrels of oil a day. To compare, it is “roughly the current level of production of your entire oil sands,” said Premier Clark. The full address to the students at the University of Calgary can be read here at the British Columbia Newsroom, BC Government Online News Source.
At this moment, B.C. does have the advantage. In the Globe and Mail article B.C. could withhold electricity from proposed pipelines, Premier suggests, the situation could get even more tense between the two provinces if electricity is denied thereby stalling the project. As an alternative tactic, the Premier could deny 60 regulatory permits and block the Northern Gateway pipeline project. To make matters worse for Enbridge, various groups objecting to this massive pipeline installation could bring the project to a halt as it is held up in court for the next 10 years.
In The Province publication, Clark refused Northern Gateway talks, claims Enbridge, it was reported that the company did not have a chance to convince Premier Clark of the benefits this project will bring to B.C. But until most of the five conditions are met, it is unlikely that any discussion will go smoothly.
Environmentalists are also intensifying their fight against the implementation of the Northern Gateway project by challenging the government that its own Species At Risk law is being broken. In the article Environmentalists sue to force Ottawa to protect species along Northern Gateway route, environmentalists made their case to the government that the Nechako white sturgeon is an endangered species under the federal Species At Risk Act. Failing to legally protect the sturgeons’ habitat may be detrimental to the recovery of the species.
With the continued bombardment of controversial press over Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project, the fight for public attention and approval is at an all time high. Most certainly, the battle between Premiers Alison Redford and Christy Clark is far from over and as the environmentalists challenge the federal government in a separate fight to save an endangered species by stalling the Northern Gateway pipeline project further, it’s uncertain when or if this project will ever come to fruition. If the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project fails to become a reality, then Asia will have the most to lose.
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