Back From the Dead?

Alberta Oil - - OBSERVER -

EN­BRIDGE’S NORTH­ERN GATE­WAY PIPE­LINE PROJECT IS ONCE again show­ing signs of life, as last month the com­pany sought a three­year ex­ten­sion on start­ing con­struc­tion in north­ern Bri­tish Columbia. The com­pany ap­plied to Canada’s en­ergy board to ex­tend its sun­set clause, giv­ing it more time to achieve le­gal and reg­u­la­tory cer­tainty, as well as to con­tinue dis­cus­sions with First Na­tions and Métis groups along the pro­posed route. The cur­rent sun­set clause stip­u­lates that con­struc­tion must be­gin by the end of 2016.

The de­ci­sion may come as a sur­prise to some in­dus­try watch­ers (in­clud­ing us) and ac­tivists, who had all but con­cluded the project was dead in the wa­ter due to con­flicts with abo­rig­i­nal groups and a pro­posed oil-tanker mora­to­rium for B.C.’s north coast. Re­cently, the fed­eral govern­ment, which ul­ti­mately has the power to ap­prove or deny the pipe­line, has hinted that there may still be life left in the project and that it may al­low for some le­niency on the tanker mora­to­rium.

Al­berta Premier Rachel Not­ley says she has dis­cussed with fed­eral cabi­net min­is­ters the pos­si­bil­ity of bring­ing the pipe­line to a less eco­log­i­cally sen­si­tive B.C. port than the one pro­posed at Kiti­mat. That’s even more sur­pris­ing con­sid­er­ing Not­ley, the leader of Al­berta’s left­lean­ing New Demo­cratic Party, is on record ex­press­ing her opposition to the pipe­line.

North­ern Gate­way says it has no cur­rent plans to change the route, but con­firms it is open to change. North­ern Gate­way is now pitch­ing the project as “a true part­ner­ship be­tween in­dus­try and First Na­tions and Métis peo­ples,” and ad­mits it could have done a bet­ter job build­ing these re­la­tion­ships ear­lier on.

“Our pri­or­ity is to con­tinue to build re­spect­ful re­la­tion­ships with First Na­tions and Métis com­mu­ni­ties,” said John Car­ruthers, pres­i­dent of North­ern Gate­way, in a state­ment last month. “From the be­gin­ning, North­ern Gate­way should have done a bet­ter job of build­ing re­la­tion­ships with First Na­tions and Métis com­mu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­larly on the west coast of Bri­tish Columbia. While we had the right in­ten­tions, we should have done a bet­ter job of lis­ten­ing and fos­ter­ing these crit­i­cal re­la­tion­ships and de­vel­op­ing our plans to­gether as true part­ners.”

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