Ottawa Citizen

Look­ing back at the year of pipe­line pol­i­tics

North­ern Gate­way at cen­tre of de­bate

- JA­SON FEKETE

North­ern Gate­way, Key­stone XL, En­bridge and Tran­sCanada: th­ese are a few of the names that dom­i­nated the po­lit­i­cal lex­i­con in 2012.

Pipe­lines surged to the fore­front of the news and sparked a na­tional de­bate over the im­pact of re­source devel­op­ment on the econ­omy, the en­vi­ron­ment, abo­rig­i­nal groups and the well-be­ing of all Cana­di­ans.

That’s why “pipe­line pol­i­tics” is my 2012 story of the year.

The epi­cen­tre of the bat­tle over pipe­lines was the En­bridge North­ern Gate­way project.

The $6-bil­lion pipe­line would trans­port oil­sands crude from north­ern Al­berta to the port of Kiti­mat, B.C., for ship­ment by tankers to Asian mar­kets.

But the project, which is be­ing ex­am­ined by a fed­eral joint re­view panel, has gen­er­ated un­prece­dented crit­i­cism over its po­ten­tial eco­log­i­cal foot­print.

That crit­i­cism has come from en­vi­ron­men­tal groups, abo­rig­i­nals and the B.C. government.

Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter Joe Oliver say ad­di­tional pipe­line ca­pac­ity is crit­i­cal to the Cana­dian econ­omy. They have crit­i­cized “for­eign money” and “rad­i­cal” en­vi­ron­men­tal groups for at­tempt­ing to hi­jack reg­u­la­tory hear­ings and de­rail ma­jor pipe­line projects.

Bri­tish Columbia is re­fus­ing to sup­port the pipe­line un­til the fed­eral government and Al­berta agree to five en­vi­ron­men­tal and fis­cal con­di­tions, in­clud­ing B.C. re­ceiv­ing its “fair share” of eco­nomic ben­e­fits.

Pipe­line pol­i­tics also stretched across the bor­der. Early in the year, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion de­nied a pres­i­den­tial per­mit for the $7-bil- lion Tran­sCanada Key­stone XL pipe­line, which would trans­port oil­sands crude from north­ern Al­berta to re­finer­ies on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Tran­sCanada agreed to reroute parts of the pipe­line due to en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns, and reap­plied. A fi­nal de­ci­sion on the pipe­line is ex­pected from the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion in early 2013.

Back in Canada, prov­inces and the fed­eral government are lin­ing up to sup­port a west-east pipe­line to help ship west­ern Cana­dian crude to Cen­tral Canada and the At­lantic prov­inces.

 ?? SHEL­DON AL­BERTS/POST­MEDIA NEWS FILES ?? En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, abo­rig­i­nals and the Bri­tish Columbia government all op­pose the Key­stone XL oil­sands pipe­line.
SHEL­DON AL­BERTS/POST­MEDIA NEWS FILES En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, abo­rig­i­nals and the Bri­tish Columbia government all op­pose the Key­stone XL oil­sands pipe­line.

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