B.C. officially opposes Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline

Douglas Channel, the proposed termination point for an oil pipeline in the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, is pictured in an aerial view of Kitimat, B.C.

The B.C. government has officially expressed its opposition to a proposal for the Northern Gateway pipeline project, saying it fails to address the province's environmental concerns.

The province made the announcement in its final written submission to the Northern Gateway Pipeline Joint Review Panel.

"British Columbia thoroughly reviewed all of the evidence and submissions made to the panel and asked substantive questions about the project, including its route, spill response capacity and financial structure to handle any incidents," said Environment Minister Terry Lake.

"Our questions were not satisfactorily answered during these hearings."

Lake said the province has carefully reviewed the evidence presented to the panel.

"The panel must determine if it is appropriate to grant a certificate for the project as currently proposed on the basis of a promise to do more study and planning after the certificate is granted,” Lake said.

“Our government does not believe that a certificate should be granted before these important questions are answered."

Enbridge to address concerns

The president of Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipelines project, John Carruthers, called the B.C. announcement "part of the process."

"British Columbia needed to submit their evidence. We need to address it. We need to meet with the people of B.C.," said Carruthers.

"Even if there's a positive decision from the Joint Review Panel in December, we still need to meet with the public, meet with the province of B.C. and continue to dialogue with them, engage with them through the further development process, through construction and through operations."

In a news release, Enbridge executive vice president Janet Holder also said the province's five conditions can't be fully met until the end of the review panel process, saying the company is working hard to meet the conditions and earn the confidence of the government and the people of B.C.

"As a British Columbian, I am personally committed, as is Northern Gateway, to building a pipeline project that meets the highest possible safety and environmental standards anywhere in the world and a project that creates new jobs and opportunities for British Columbians," she said.

"At Northern Gateway, we are driven by our responsibility to do what's right for B.C.'s economy and for B.C.'s environment."

The review panel will hear final arguments starting next month, and must present a report to the federal government by the end of the year. The federal government will have the final say on whether the pipeline goes ahead.

Alberta downplays rejection

Alberta's Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Minister Diana McQueen downplayed B.C.'s rejection of the project, saying the review process would continue.

“Alberta respects the hearing process underway for the Northern Gateway pipeline, and we trust that the panel will make its decisions based on science and all the evidence that has been presented," said McQueen.