Back From the Dead?
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.”